Real Madrid must come up with a plan to help Rodrygo Goes rebound

Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid were able to beat Granada 1-0 in LaLiga’s Matchday 23, but the match could have ended with a different result if Fede Valverde, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic did not change the game off the bench.

In truth, Carlo Ancelotti should have started this trio of players. He received a great deal of criticism from Madridistas for his starting lineup selection, and this criticism came on the heels of a horrible defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. While the team did not play well, Ancelotti did indeed deserve the brunt of the criticism for his questionable decisions.

But if we are focusing on the players on the pitch, there is one specific player who has been an even bigger disappointment than Ancelotti.

Rodrygo Goes has had some bright moments this season, such as his match-winning goal against Inter Milan and some strong performances against Barcelona.

Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes
Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

Rodrygo hasn’t even been a factor on the left wing

However, Rodrygo has also been quiet in many games this season, and he has failed to show growth since when he first joined in 2019. After some sensational moments in 2019-2020 and a few positive ones in 2020-2021, Rodrygo has been more frustrating than not in 2021-2022.

Even when he has started on the left wing, he has failed to make an impact. That was the case against Granada, as Rodrygo’s three shots were the only moments you could pick out as positives from his performance. He played on both wings against Bilbao in the previous match but was even worse, failing to create any chances or take anybody on for his team.

Real Madrid have not been great in the attack over their past few matches, and Rodrygo has been the most culpable when on the pitch. Once confident one-on-one and a dangerous scoring threat in his first season with Madrid, Rodrygo has looked more timid.

It is not a question of talent with Rodrygo, but rather a question of pressure. Real Madrid players are under pressure not to give the ball away or make mistakes, and perhaps overthinking is the issue here for Rodrygo. It was the issue for Vinicius Jr., before Carlo Ancelotti and a sports psychologist helped encourage Vini to trust his talent.

Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes
Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images) /

Rodrygo is talented enough to play for Real Madrid

Rodrygo has recorded five assists this season but just two goals. He is a smart player who can find his teammates, but he really should be more than that. When Real Madrid signed Rodrygo from Santos for about 50 million euros, they made this investment with the idea that he could become one of the best wingers in European football.

At 21, Rodrygo absolutely still can. He has years to develop. But with Real targeting players like Kylian Mbappe in the summer transfer window, it is fair for Madridistas to worry about his future at the club – at least as a starter. And on that note, doesn’t he have too much potential to accept a backup role?

We can’t overreact to a couple of bad games. However, it is important for both Madrid and Rodrygo to be proactive and interpret these results productively. How can they help Rodrygo play with more confidence and help the team as a dribbler? What does Rodrygo need to become more of a scoring threat? He’s had chances. For example, he missed a couple of glorious chances against Barcelona in the Supercup. So like with Vinicius, the task for Ancelotti will be getting Rodrygo to improve his finishing, both in terms of mental and technical traits.

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The honest statement is that Rodrygo has not been meeting the levels expected of a starter at Real Madrid lately. But the fair takeaway is that he is capable of reaching these levels. Finally, the intelligent response is to create a plan of action to help Rodrygo find that form, noting that progress is not linear.