Real Madrid: Why Ferland Mendy must step up and help Vinicius Junior

Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) /

It has been a great season for Real Madrid so far. A splendid run of unbeaten form and Los Blancos is sitting comfortably at the top of the table, with Sevilla the only team chasing with superb pace. Julen Lopetegui has turned Sevilla into one of the best teams in Spain and the Palanganas are very thirsty for the title.

One thing we have always seen from Real Madrid in the past is an attack from the flanks. There was a time when Real Madrid was unstoppable. Los Blancos was the best team. Of course, I am talking about the three-peat. The Bale, Benzema, Cristiano (BBC) Era when there was no team in the whole of Europe that could stop them from winning.

Dani Carvajal and Marcelo Vieira would often pose as attacking threats to the opposition, especially Marcelo. While trying to cover Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, the defenders and midfielders would often leave free spaces near the box. Marcelo would then combine with Toni Kroos or Luka Modric to steer clear of any players who might try to stop him. Once the Brazilian would escape the tackles, he would only have the goalkeeper to beat, which he could do easily.

Marcelo is a great left wing back. He can attack, put in dangerous crosses, and beat his man with some great set of skills. What he misses now is the pace a wing-back requires. Something he lost with age, and something that made coaches like Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti choose Ferland Mendy over the Brazilian.

But, despite this great run of form and the best attack in Spain at the moment, there is something Real Madrid is missing while attacking. Attacking by the full-backs to help the team upfront.

Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy (Photo by Francis Gonzalez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Ferland Mendy (Photo by Francis Gonzalez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Vinicius Junior is facing too many difficult matchups now

At the start of the season, we saw Vinicius Junior in spectacular form with him scoring surprisingly great goals and turning the game’s result towards Real Madrid. As the season went by, we saw Vinicius’s confidence go high up in the air and the opposition’s defense absolutely clueless on how to stop the Brazilian.

But as Los Blancos played games every third day, the impact that Vinicius would have on the game started reducing (specifically in December). Was it the fatigue? Definitely a factor, but not the only reason. He is still very young and what Madridistas expect is a little too much, but that is how it works. When you play for a top club like Real Madrid, you have to deliver week in week out and have to perform even under unbearable pressure.

Vinicius Junior is improving with each passing day. But then why is he not able to deliver the way he did at first? Some of the blame can be put on Ferland Mendy as well. Unlike Marcelo, who would take advantage of open spaces when defenders would mark Cristiano or Benzema, Ferland Mendy prefers to feed the ball to Vinicius Junior and maintain his defensive position. This is the reason why Vinicius has slowed down. The opposition’s defenders crowd the Brazilian barely leaving any spaces for Vinicius to escape the trap. And without any player there to support him or play a one-two with him, the attack breaks down.

Defensively, Ferland Mendy has been great this season. He has been spot on while defending and his tackles have been crucial and accurate. His strong physical strength has helped him protect the ball from the opponents and his quick sprints have helped Real Madrid escape from many lethal counter-attacks. These excellent qualities have enabled David Alaba to make some attacking runs without fearing counter-attacks.

The reason why Real Madrid could excel in offense with Marcelo was that the attacking support that he offered was lethal. His crossing was spot on and his shooting was very accurate. But Ferland Mendy hasn’t been that good in attack. He makes good attacking runs (which he should make more often) and is strong in the box, but his shooting, heading, and crossing accuracy have been disappointing.

So far the Frenchman has 1 goal and 1 assist in all competitions for Real Madrid. But what is disappointing is that he averages only 0.8 key passes and 0.2 accurate crosses a game. This is not what from a player who you believe should be the regular starter in that position.

Real Madrid
Miguel Gutierrez of Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Miguel Gutierrez can challenge Ferland Mendy for a starting role

Next summer when Marcelo will leave, Miguel Gutierrez will be expected to be Ferland Mendy’s backup. Miguel is a player of great capabilities and can definitely succeed at the club as a first-class left back.

To be honest, if you ask my opinion, I believe that Miguel Gutierrez is a more complete player. He might not be as strong defensively as Ferland Mendy is, but Miguel is much better on the attack and can help Real Madrid and Vinicius Junior in improving performances.

Remember his chip pass to Luka Modric last season? Pure beauty. Even this season, in the 5 matches the Spaniard has played for the club, as per, he has averaged 1 key pass and 0.8 accurate crosses a game while managing to get an assist in his name. With the three strengths that make Miguel a special player, he can very well challenge Ferland Mendy and prove to Carlo Ancelotti that he must be a regular starter for Los Blancos.

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I believe that for a top club that Real Madrid is, a player needs to be complete and spot on. So Ferland Mendy must improve and help Vinicius Junior in attack, or live with the fear of Miguel Gutierrez snatching his role at the club.