Real Madrid: 5 players who must shine at Valencia

Real Madrid, Casemiro, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Casemiro, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez
Real Madrid, Lucas Vazquez (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

RB Lucas Vazquez

Dani Carvajal is still a way’s away from returning after suffering a knee injury, and his backup Alvaro Odriozola is also still out even though fans expected him to be healthy by now.

Thankfully, there is no pressure on Odriozola to return before his body is fully ready. That’s partially because Lucas Vazquez has looked good at right back since stepping up with a massive performance off the bench in El Clasico when Nacho Fernandez also suffered a first-half injury.

Vazquez wasn’t 100 percent against Inter Milan after taking a knock against Huesca, but he played pretty well. He had some issues defensively, as his frame and status as winger make him vulnerable in the tackle. Tenacity can only make up for so much when there is a deficit in strength and experience.

Offensively, Vazquez is a big plus at right back. His quickness, stepovers, and crosses mean there is no drop-off in attacking output in comparison to Carvajal and Odriozola. Meanwhile, whenever Nacho starts, Real’s attack gets nothing from the right-hand side.

RW Marco Asensio

Marco Asensio was not called up to Spain for the upcoming international break, meaning Sergio Ramos is the only Real Madrid player on the Spanish squad.

That’s largely because Asensio hasn’t played well recently. He’s been invisible lately, and it’s possible Los Blancos decide to roll with Rodrygo Goes in the starting XI on Sunday.

But I think Zinedine Zidane sticks with Asensio. The left-footed right winger had some bright moments to start the season, including with his dribbling as one of two game-changing attacking subs in the 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.

The consistency is lacking, and Asensio has been, very surprisingly, unable to establish himself as a goal threat. Recall, though, that Asensio had a goal with his very first touch back from injury as a substitute against Valencia this summer before assisting for Karim Benzema.

Maybe he finds the back of the net again but at the Mestalla this time.