Real Madrid: Three players who need to step up in the absence of Karim Benzema

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz
Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images) /

Mariano Diaz

Mariano is an interesting player. He is not one of the most technically gifted players in the squad, but he is one of the most determined players on the team. He was the team’s third-choice striker in the 2019/20 season, but right now he is the second-choice striker after Luka Jovic’s departure on loan.

On paper, he’s a backup for Karim Benzema, but if you analyse their style of play, both of them are completely opposite types of strikers. While one is a mixture of number nine and ten who dictates the attacking game, the other is a typical old-school poacher, who doesn’t care about being involved in the build-up and has only one objective of keeping the defenders busy and attacking every chance.

Though Mariano is very different from Benzema, he has to step up in the absence of the Frenchman and do what’s expected of him, to score goals. For the crossing tactics used by Zidane, Mariano looks like a great choice at times due to his pace, strength, athleticism and aerial prowess. He looks like the striker who can be at the right place at the right time.

He knows when to make the run and get onto the end of the pass. He converted two chances in the previous game against Valladolid, but those goals were ruled out due to him being offside. He can press hard, and be a nightmare for the defenders. He simply makes a meal of a duel and has an intense physical duel with the defender. This trait of his can be very useful against the highly physical but vulnerable Atalanta defence. That’s why I believe he can be very useful against Atalanta and he is the best goalscoring threat in our team, apart from Benzema.

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He has come under a lot of scrutiny for not leaving Real Madrid despite being unwanted by Zidane. But he has always shown passion and determination while playing for this club, and he has shown why he shouldn’t be judged without being given a proper chance. If he manages to score a goal against Atalanta, that would be the perfect reply to everyone who questioned his abilities and his decision to fight for his spot.