Nacho Fernandez has now started five matches in a row for Real Madrid and in the absence of Sergio Ramos, he has put his best foot forward in organizing the Madrid defense. Linking up with the captain in charge – Raphael Varane, the duo have made the Madrid defense look stronger than expected whilst recovering out of a long list of absentees. Ergo, it’s needless to say how important Nacho’s contributions will prove to be as Los Blancos go into the derby to close on the gap with their city rivals, Los Rojiblancos.
Nacho had considerable contributions to the run of the champions early on in the league season, he has arguably shined since Ramos’s knee surgery as the captain remains sidelined indefinitely. Right before he picked up the mentioned issue, Ramos was disturbed by a stomach bug that made him miss their fixture against Celta, a game where Nacho declared his capabilities for becoming a regular in the season.
He ended the match with as many as 7 clearances including few absolutely vital ones from inside the box, that may have had resulted into a goal otherwise. He also maintained a brilliant 92.5% passing accuracy in a total of 40 passes and 7 long balls in the match, per Whoscored.com. 6 out of 11 clean sheets for Thibaut Courtois and Real Madrid in LaLiga this season, were secured while Nacho was on the pitch. Real also kept clean sheets in 2 out of 3 Nacho’s appearances in the Champions League.
Apart from his defensive prowess, it again is vital and visible that Nacho also carries an edge for attacking that may come in handy for the Champions. Nacho was seen making runs into the box, at times with the ball on his feet, as he dribbled past Atalanta defenders in their Champions League Round of 16 clash at Bergamo.
Nacho has given Real Madrid nothing but his absolute best
He has also been handy while linking up with the Madrid mid-field trio of Kroos, Modric, and Casemiro. He was invited upon a number of times by Toni Kroos to make runs and deliver long balls finding the wingers. His capabilities to be a handy presence in any buildup play has been a talking point from his last few outings for Los Blancos. He has played more than 1000 minutes in 12 outings in LaLiga maintaining an above-average statistical record for a central defender.
If the least is to be said, Nacho’s hard-work and reliability have definitely increased Zidane’s choices for the back four alongside names like Eder Militao and Alvaro Odriozola. With Ferland Mendy prioritizing his attacking abilities, Nacho’s presence at the back with Varane has been working for Real Madrid. He has been vital at filling up for the absence of Captain Sergio Ramos and Marcelo. While it is realistic for Zidane to hope for their recoveries and their presence on the pitch, it is also true that he has shown trust in Nacho who has stepped up like an absolute club servant to give his best for Zidane and the club.
Real Madrid face Atletico next in the Madrid Derby at the Wanda. While there haven’t been any updates to the captain’s return, it is predictable that Nacho would start with Varane at the back. Speculations about Benzema returning before the big match again is a huge boost as Real have been seen struggling to make their finishes. Overall, if at all Madrid are to win any major titles this season, Nacho would remain one of the most prominent contributors in the journey.