Real Madrid: 5 players who have to shine in must-win match vs. Gladbach

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal
Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images) /

RB Dani Carvajal

Dani Carvajal returned for Real Madrid, then he was injured again, but now he is back for this pivotal fixture at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. With all due respect to the hard-working Lucas Vazquez, he is no right back. There is a massive drop-off between Carvajal and Vazquez defensively both in terms of positioning and quality in the tackle. Look no further than Shakhtar Donetsk’s second goal in the most recent Champions League fixture.

There isn’t a better big-game right back in the world than Carvajal. He has been there, done that. High-pressure games like this match vs. Borussia Monchengladbach do not catch Carvajal off guard, but he will need to be at his absolute best against potentially Marcus Thuram on that left-hand side.

Thuram destroyed Real Madrid on the counterattack last time out, as he and Alassane Plea form a partnership that is difficult to match in the efficiency of their execution. The Gladbach forward’s intelligent movement, chance-creation, and clinical finishing make him the opponent’s star man, and Carvajal will have to be equal to the task.

CM Toni Kroos

Germany international Toni Kroos is both Real Madrid’s leader in key passes and passes into the final third in the Champions League. He has a great claim to being the world’s best passer, and his importance to Real’s build-up play and chance-creation are clear to see each week he is in the starting XI.

Kroos must be the genius against Gladbach, just as he was at the San Siro and at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in recent weeks. While Real have other quality players in the midfield, Kroos’ ability to be a true conductor and calming influence are necessary at Gladbach.