Real Madrid: 3 reasons why Eder Militao must start next season

Real Madrid, Eder Militao (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eder Militao (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Eder Militao (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eder Militao (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) /

Eder Militao is a great asset and he brings a sense of completeness in defence

When Real Madrid bought Militao as a 21-year-old from Porto for 50 million, people had a lot of expectations of him particularly due to the price tag and the hype behind him. With him getting minimal game time, the expectations decreased drastically. But now, after two years, people have finally realised his world-class defensive abilities. Let us analyse his gameplay and his abilities in detail, which make him special.

One of the best defensive skills of MIlitao is his ability to intercept the ball with ease. He’s a dynamic defender, and he knows how to respond to different situations while defending. He usually sticks around the player he has to mark, whilst the ball is being played in the midfield zone. Once the pass is made towards the attacker, Militao times his run well and gets to the ball before the attacker gets there. While playing a high line, he has to cover a lot of ground to reach the ball, but he clears the danger most of the time, thanks to his supreme recovery speed.

But the best part about his technique is his ability to not give any warning to the opponent that he’s approaching the ball, and winning the ball silently. He stays behind the attacker and gets ahead of them at the perfect moment. He gets a touch on the ball while it’s almost about to reach the target player. It’s like he just steals the ball off the player’s feet while the player is about to make his next move. No wonder he averages 1.9 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League.

And while going 1v1, he matches the opponents’ stride to stride, with his rapid pace and wiry frame with long legs helping him to do so, and for the final step, he stretches and just takes a simple touch that diverts the path of the ball away from the attacker. Militao manages to intercept the ball almost every time and passes the ball to his nearest teammate even with a difficult touch made after a split-second decision, which helps the team regain possession.

The same qualities make him great in 1v1 duels, particularly in footraces. According to UEFA, he reached a top speed of 33.2 km/h in the Champions League. And his 186 cm height helps him dominate attackers in an aerial duel. Not to forget his decent heading skills, something visible during setpieces. He already has 2 headed goals this season and has often shown a tendency to rise the highest while jumping up like a compressed spring that has been released.

He also knows how to use physical force on occasions, but stays within the limit, a trait that we often see in his compatriot Casemiro. One also needs to appreciate his presence of mind and footballing intelligence. He watches the attacker’s moments closely and waits for the right moment, before pouncing on them to win the ball.

He is adept at ball-winning, and his aggressive nature helps him excel in tackling. He never goes into a tackle half-heartedly. If he decides to go for a slide tackle, he will give his 100% into that and lunge into the tackle, irrespective of the positioning and he won’t take half measures. Sometimes it’s risky going into a slide tackle, due to obvious reasons. But Militao manages to time those tackles to perfection, due to which he manages to win the ball in most of the cases. Chelsea’s attackers might be knowing a lot about this, as Militao won a game-high 7 tackles in the first leg. No wonder he averaged 2.2 tackles per 90 mins in 2020/21, a figure which jumps to 3.8 tackles per 90 mins in the Champions League, according to WhoScored.

Another skill of Militao which I liked a lot is his ability to block shots. He makes himself big whenever facing a shot inside the box (doesn’t forget to stick his hands to the chest), and in some cases, he manages to get ahead of the attacker (when the attacker lines up for a tap-in). Sometimes the ploy fails, as it did against Mason Mount in the second leg, but it’s still an effective weapon for Eder. On average, he blocked 0.7 shots and 1 pass per 90 mins, according to WhoScored.

And while facing a skilful dribbler, someone like Messi whom he did manage to stop successfully, who’re dribblers who don’t reveal anything until the final moment, he matches them for every step and watches every move of the attacker carefully. He never rushes in this case. He is highly observant and waits for the right moment like a tiger ready to prey, and then clears the danger at a rate of 3.2 well-timed clearances per 90 mins.

Eder Militao is a confident guy with the ball at his feet, which is something that’s needed while building from the back. This is problematic with Varane, as he’s shaky under pressure. His press resistance isn’t as good as Sergio Ramos, but he’s satisfactory in that aspect and can bring the ball out of pressure either on his own or make a pass after some flicks and turns.

But sometimes he can put the opponents under pressure with his passes. His long passing is great, particularly the ball with which he tries to release the Right-Back into space down the right flank, and the occasional switch with a diagonal ball from right to left. He makes around 4.8 successful long balls per 90 minutes, a number that proves his ball-playing abilities. Not to forget that he is a decent dribbler, a skill that enabled him to play as an RB as well at Porto.

Considering his wonderful skill-set, I believe it is fair to call Militao a ‘complete defender.’ Some people see him as a destroyer primarily, but I feel Militao is much more than that, he can also guide his team from the back with the ball at his feet.

Real Madrid has such a talented defender at their disposal, a player who has proven himself, and it would be a shame to see that talent is wasted on the bench. MIlitao’s abilities make him an invaluable asset, and such a gem should be seen regularly in the starting XI of Real Madrid, playing week-in week-out. He is just 23, and the only way he will go from here is upwards.