Real Madrid: The rest of the season is make-or-break for Marco Asensio

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid right winger Marco Asensio has worked hard for the spot he has, and now he must do everything he can to make sure it remains his.

After more than a year and a half, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has his preferred front three fully fit. Eden Hazard (although he has COVID-19, he should be back after the international break) is finally back from his injury, and Marco Asensio also looks to have recovered fully from the ACL and then other minor injuries that halted his involvement on the pitch. He is looking sharp, but I’ve noticed some inconsistencies in the way he is involved.

He had a good game against Levante (more on that later) but against Huesca, he was like a bystander. He wasn’t involved that much. He got the ball but he mostly just helped in distribution and that’s it (kind of like Bale in his last two seasons at the club). Things like this are nothing new for Asensio. It has happened before, and I’m not saying players don’t have bad games, but you can’t be this inconsistent at a team like Real Madrid, especially when you’re 24 and just a couple of years away from entering your prime.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for almost every player to have ever played football in his career. Now, that’s not to say he hasn’t been good, or that he doesn’t have the potential to be a great player. But, I mean, we have seen these inconsistencies for a long time now: Asensio started 2017/18 well, but then eventually slowed down, and then got back up again (his highest number of goal involvements for Real Madrid, by the way, with 10). He had a very inconsistent 2018/19 season: He started off in good form under Julen Lopetegui, getting assists, creating chances, but then started regressing. He worked very hard to earn this spot. He can’t take it for granted now that he has it.

Inconsistency and a lack of intent are the main issues that Asensio needs to sort out. You can’t be at the biggest club in the world and be a starter with that many inconsistencies. Normal blips in form are understandable. Hell, even Ronaldo has them, Messi is going through one of them right now. But, you can’t start off well and then go into the blip for the rest of the season. Especially not at Real Madrid. The club doesn’t hold back.

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Marco Asensio needs to step up for Real Madrid and meet expectations

Now that he is back to being fully fit, a lot of expectations are on his shoulders, as are on all the other players. If he doesn’t meet those expectations, he will be replaced. I’m not taking anything away from the guy. He is very talented. But, if he is not performing well, someone like a Rodrygo or maybe even an Odegaard will take the spot.

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Asensio hasn’t been bad this season, he has been okay, really. But, that’s the thing: He was okay or better at the start of every season, but he continued in only a couple. He needs to be better than okay. We all know how emotional his journey has been, and how much work he has put into this. He needs to repay the faith showed in him by the club.

He mentioned earlier this year that he has been feeling even better than before the injury. That’s obviously a good thing. He just needs to improve on his imperfections, and he will be a vital cog in Real Madrid’s offense.

There have been some good games, though, don’t get me wrong.

Against Barcelona, he was great after the 35th-minute mark. He helped out massively in defense (probably his best defensive shift in his career) and was a lively presence in the offense after the 35th.

Before that mark, you could make an argument of him being invisible in the attacking third. He didn’t get the ball, he didn’t move in between the lines and make himself available. He didn’t cut inside like Vinicius Junior did so many times in that game. It took him a good while to realize that he needs to be better.

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Marco Asensio has had some bright moments for Real Madrid this season

In the game against Monchengladbach, he tried a lot of things, and was very close to scoring the first goal for Madrid. He was one of the better players on the team that night. He took a shot from his right foot in the first half that was saved. He hit the post in the second half with a, well, interesting “shot”, to say the least. He tried good things throughout, but he ultimately came up just short. But yes, that’s more of what I want to see from Marco: Intent. He needs to at least try doing stuff like that, Regardless of the outcome.

He had that beautiful dribble past two of Monchengladbach players as well in the first half, something that has been very inconsistent since his first season at the club. He doesn’t take on many players and instead passes the ball to a teammate when there’s a clear chance that he would be able to dribble past the man. He has been a great dribbler before, and he still can be, if he tries. Again, he needs to show intent, to be able to convince the coach that he deserves the spot he is playing at.

He had another great game against Levante, probably his best one this season, statistically. He had four key passes, six shot-creating actions, two out of his three dribbles were completed. He created a lot of chances and provided the attack with some much-needed dynamism.

But other than these games, there was barely anything productive that Asensio did. When he has the ball, he doesn’t look threatening. I’ve noticed that so many times. This really needs to change, you know? He is an attacker, after all.

Marco Asensio must improve in the face of future competition from young Real Madrid stars on loan

All in all, this is definitely a make-or-break season for the Spanish winger. He has no excuses; he has to perform. He really only has this season to solidify his position in the wing. We already have Odegaard, who will compete for that third attacking spot (no matter where it may be, in the wing or at the tip of the diamond). We also have Rodrygo for that role. I know he isn’t a natural right-winger, but he has surpassed expectations playing on the right.

Obviously, Real Madrid might even make move for (dare I say it) Kylian Mbappe or another right-winger next summer, so there’s that as well. Brahim Diaz is performing really, really well on loan at Milan these days, and he is a natural right-winger. Takefusa Kubo is one as well that will eventually come back as well. So, yeah, there is a lot of competition (potentially) for Marco Asensio.

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Asensio must prove to Zidane that despite all of this, he’s his go-to guy every single time. It’s time for him to make a transition from the “inconsistent yet talented winger” to a polished, consistent winger that can do what the manager wants him to do. Now that Odegaard has come back from injury, his starting spot may be in jeopardy. Odegaard is his biggest competition in the team right now, and Asensio needs to feed off of it, not fall because of it.