Real Madrid: Marco Asensio’s goals may be the confidence boost he needs

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid has successfully managed to maintain an identical scoreline of 3-1 in their favor in the team’s two last outings. The first, a UCL clash against Atalanta at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, and the second, a La Liga fixture against Celta Vigo away from home. In both these games, Real Madrid was brought under pressure by their oppositions breathing close at just a goal’s difference. And, on both occasions, Marco Asensio managed to find the net to give Los Blancos that one goal’s cushion.

Asensio’s goal-scoring has invited a cluster of opinions around the football community. The Spaniard has looked out of touch for much of the season. After starting eleven back-to-back matches in the league for Los Blancos, he was finally benched by Zidane letting youngsters like Rodrygo and Vinicius on a spot in the starting XI. It was predictable for Zidane to do so, given the spell of horrible form Asensio was in. He struggled the most among the forwards while at it and looked in a lack of ideas during buildup play.

But, fortunately, the story of the last two matches has been different. Asensio has now been used the way a lot of people say he should be. There is a wide agreement that Asensio is a second-half player and that the word ‘super-sub’ is a perfect fit when it comes to him. He has very much lived up to the same. While his goal against Celta was a formality finish with Benzema doing most of the work finding him right in front of an unguarded net, it is also true that Asensio timed his run to perfection and made that vital touch that was needed.

His goal in the Champions League, however, was a much better piece of finishing. Lucas Vazquez found him inside the box. He took a touch with his left foot and placed it perfectly into the near post past Marco Sportiello, the Atalanta keeper who barely had any time to react to that shot. He practically scored with his first couple of touches in the match. Furthermore, the goal came at a crucial point. It was just after Luis Muriel had scored at the other end and the pressure was back on Real to defend a 2-1 scoreline in the match. Though it was a cushion goal, it can’t be denied that it was a great time to score.

Asensio ended his drought of European goals, with his last before this coming in 2019’s Champions League. He maintained a 100% passing accuracy in both these games, per Whoscored. He looked in better touch, found the right passes, and helped create chances. Most importantly, he scored twice in two outings and made that vital difference that all Madridistas have been looking for this season.

Marco Asensio is a second-half player for Real Madrid

Yes, Asensio has proved that he can get the job done when he is sent out by Zidane. But, a looming question remains. Is Asensio a second-half player? Asensio has indeed impressed as a substitute. Even in the home fixture against Granada when he put up his only MOTM performance this season, he was brought in as a substitute for an injured Rodrygo. Well, categorizing players as a starter or an effective substitute isn’t the best for their game development. A lot can change according to the situations a player is introduced in any game.

Asensio sure does have that edge under pressure or the urgency of a ticking clock towards the full-time whistle. At the moment, Real Madrid has longer targets to achieve and if the introduction of Asensio in the closing stages is getting them closer to their target, so be it. As such, we also need to understand that to be able to perform in such situations can be huge confidence boosters for players.

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Asensio has had a few rough weeks on-field and getting to see him back on the scoresheet, in whatever role may it be is a positive sign for Los Blancos. His performance against Atalanta gave him much-needed confidence, and it was visible on the field against Celta in the next match. He needs to continue the good work. With the potential that Asensio has, there is a reason for us to believe that he can still be a crucial contributor for the rest of the season.