Real Madrid: 3 burning questions after a 1-1 draw with Atleti

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid were outplayed for the majority of the match, but they managed to equalize with just minutes left thanks to a brilliant bit of understanding between defensive midfielder Casemiro and striker Karim Benzema.

It was far from a banner performance from Los Blancos, but they managed to get a point out of their match against league leaders Atletico Madrid with a 1-1 draw.

Here are three burning questions following La Liga’s Matchday 26.

Is that it for Marco Asensio?

Marco Asensio was not “useless” in this match, which is a word haphazardly thrown around by many Madridistas to describe the disappointing forward. But he was, once again, poor.

Zinedine Zidane did his best to help Asensio by starting him on the left-hand side, as that’s actually been the better side for Asensio this season due to his crossing. We may have been singing a different tune with Asensio if his two good crosses to Karim Benzema were converted, but it would also be an exaggeration to praise a player for two good crosses and a host of other issues when actually on the ball.

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The reality is that Asensio is no longer capable of creating his own chances. And if he isn’t crossing, he’s not really creating chances for others. At this level, only fullbacks can get away with having the lowly cross as their only attacking threat. Asensio must provide more to Real Madrid than that.

But he’s not. He’s not offering more to this club, and the fans know it.

Vinicius Junior, meanwhile, had a world-class pass to Benzema that should have been an assist and showed a LOT more initiative on the dribble than Asensio when he came in for the Andalusian in the second half. That’s the guy Zidane should be starting.

Did the defense show cracks against Atleti?

Real Madrid have one of La Liga’s top defenses alongside their opponents on Sunday, and while both sides only allowed one goal, Los Blancos could have easily surrendered a few more.

Lucas Vazquez was picked on frequently by a dazzling Yannick Carrasco, who could’ve provided multiple assists on this day. But Vazquez wasn’t the only player who struggled. Raphael Varane played well but had individual errors that Thibaut Courtois spared. Nacho Fernandez had his worst defensive performance since filling in for Sergio Ramos. Ferland Mendy did well against Kieran Trippier, but, as a whole, the back four disappointed.

If it weren’t for Courtois, we would be picking apart Real Madrid’s defensive performance today. They must be better than this against Atalanta in the Champions League and in their second fixture against a rapidly-improving FC Barcelona, who seem to be reinvigorated by Joan Laporta’s election.

What is the best way to reintroduce Rodrygo Goes?

As my colleague Prasanna Baidya pointed out in his player ratings from the derby, Rodrygo Goes did not have his best game in a Real Madrid kit this Sunday. The 20-year-old was often isolated on the right-hand side and unable to beat his man, and he was honestly a passenger for an hour before being taken off for a more effective Fede Valverde.

Rodrygo did have a good performance off the bench against Real Sociedad in the 1-1 draw last Monday, which gave Madridistas hope that he could start on Matchday 26. Zinedine Zidane rolled the dice on the youngster recently returning from injury, but it did not pay off.

Maybe it is best to take things slowly with Rodrygo against Elche. Ideally, Real would be able to bring him in off the bench and let him get some minutes on the left before the Champions League tie vs. Atalanta.

Next. The takeaways from Real Madrid's draw with Atletico. dark

Not starting Rodrgyo doesn’t mean that Asensio has to start either. Real Madrid can make use of the diamond, giving a start to Fede or Isco, who was fantastic on Monday against La Real and has earned more playing time in the second half of the campaign.