Real Madrid right winger Rodrygo Goes was in the starting XI for Wednesday night’s 3-0 Champions League triumph over Sheriff Tiraspol. Not only that, but the young Brazilian forward was one of the best players on the pitch for Los Blancos, along with Man of the Match Toni Kroos.
Rodrygo hasn’t received many starting opportunities this season. In fact, this was just his sixth start between the Champions League and La Liga of 2021-2022. But with an all-action display up front, Rodrygo reminded fans why he is still the best option on the right wing, above Marco Asensio.
The former Santos standout is more comfortable on the left wing, where he is more of a goal threat and more incisive when it comes to taking on defenders. However, Rodrygo did not lack in this regard against Sheriff, as he was more than willing of getting into the box and forcing the issue against defenders.
Part of this is a credit to Rodrygo’s mentality and drive to create, but another portion of the credit must go to Carlo Ancelotti, who has already shown his managerial genius in helping Vinicius Junior reach superstar status.
So how did Ancelotti help Rodrygo produce his best performance of the 2021-2022 season thus far? By making a little tactical tweak. That’s how.
Rodrygo Goes was more striker than winger at Sheriff
In this match at Sheriff, Rodrygo did not play as wide on the right wing as he usually has for Real Madrid, dating back to when Zinedine Zidane was manager. He played very centrally in this match, like Marco Asensio has been as a left-footer.
The result was that Luka Modric played the unselfish role as a wide midfielder and playmaker, combining with Rodrygo and doing whatever he could to help feed the Brazilian in central areas or in areas in and around the box.
Rodrygo was acting almost like a support striker, often playing high up the pitch and combining with Karim Benzema or Vinicius Junior. He played more freely, and he showed many Madridistas why they are not wrong for seeing a little bit of striker potential in him.
While the 20-year-old did not score, he did force a save from Sheriff’s goalkeeper and had an assist for Madrid’s excellent second – a trademark finesse shot from mid-range off the sweet right foot of Toni Kroos.
In total, Rodrygo finished Matchday 5 of the Champions League with two key passes, three fouls drawn, and three interceptions to go with his assist.
It was an intelligent, encouraging display from Rodrygo, who was at the heart of everything good about Real Madrid attacking-wise. And it was yet another example of the brilliance of Ancelotti tactically, making the small changes that take into context space and role to help a player find their best possible form. Madridistas should therefore be excited to see more of what Rodrygo can do in this setup in future matches.