Real Madrid: Five Takeaways From The Season So Far

Real Madrid (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

The offensive inconsistencies

Real Madrid have only once scored more than three goals in a game. The team’s top scorer is Karim Benzema with four goals from eight games in the league (two goals in three Champions League games as well). The team’s heavy reliance on crossing and not having that many players that can score through them has been an issue for a long time now. It is only becoming more serious because the team’s suffering on the other end of the pitch as well, unlike last season.

Marco Asensio currently has zero goals to his name this season. Vinicius Jr has scored three but he has been largely inefficient in front of goal. Eden Hazard has only started five games this season, scoring two.

These are Zinedine Zidane’s most preferred attacking options. These are players that can be introduced to a more well-suited tactical plan going forward, to get the most usage out of, rather than just crossing the ball and hoping for one of the players to fly into the box and head it in. All teams do not have Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but still, they score goals. That’s because of an offensive scheme that incorporates all offensive-minded players and utilizes their best traits.

For example, Eden Hazard is a brilliant line-breaking presence and is also an elite chance creator. He has proved time and time again at Chelsea how he is able to zigzag past the whole defense and open up chances for his teammates. Asensio — judging from past seasons, has a great shot in him which is not currently being utilized properly. For some perspective, in his 11 starts in the 2016-17 season (in La Liga), he took 23 shots, which is more than two shots per game. He didn’t register a shot in only two of those starts.

In 2017-18 (his most goal-laden season), he had 19 starts. In those 19 starts (in La Liga), he took 47 shots, which is 2.47 per game. He failed to register a shot in only three of those starts. This season, (in La Liga and champions league, since he has had most of his shots in the Champions League) he has had 12 shots in eight starts, failing to register one in four separate games already.

Karim Benzema is a great creator but someone needs to be in the box at all times for the team to utilize Benzema centrally more often, and have a presence in the box which can be used by him. Asensio can be that presence. He has proved many times that he can be a shot-creating menace and it is only fair to give him the chance to show it.

In terms of offensive schemes, when the team’s trailing or drawing, they start relying heavily on crosses, that doesn’t pan out well, now that players like Ronaldo and Bale are gone. It’s actually getting worryingly expected, Kroos on the left will combine with other players around him, and will either pass to the left-back (Marcelo usually goes for more crosses than Mendy, and inefficient ones at that as well) or play a cross-field switch to the right back with a quarter of the pitch open for him to work in. The cross will take place and will be cleared by a defender. Once it might go in. That’s it. For context, Real Madrid had 40 crosses against Alaves and scored one goal.