SportsReal Madrid, from penury to manna

Real Madrid, from penury to manna


Asensio, Benzema, Alaba, Rodrygo and Valverde celebrate a goal against Mallorca.AFP7 via Europa Press / Europa Press

Carlo Ancelotti’s first words about Real Madrid’s vaunted scoring difficulties sounded like this is what it is. “Benzema has to score 50, not 30. Vinicius has to score. It is not just about signing, but about others getting more. These are the players that there are, they have quality ”, the Italian coach answered in his presentation, who spoke of“ putting a system and an offensive mentality ”. The response in early summer did not seem very encouraging to white interests, who saw no other solution than to buy ammunition. However, six league days later, practically the same ones as always have started like a powerful artillery: 21 goals, a third of those he achieved in the entire last championship and his best statistics since 87/88 (then he added 26).

From Zidane to Ancelotti, the paradigm has changed. The French, weighed down by the loss of Cristiano, organized a team around defensive security to maximize the goals scored. The priority was not to uncover behind and the maneuvers upstairs were slow and heavy, waiting for the quality to do its job by decanting. Soccer control. And so he managed to lift the coronaliga and to arrive alive last season until the last season with a dressing room that, if it seemed something, is that he needed new arguments (and probably names) in an attack that had gone from putting 156 with Ronaldo (in 2017) to 91 without him ( 2020). With the Italian the way is being different: to squeeze the offensive talent, although there is no other novelty than Bale; a bet that, for the moment, shows a clear balance in favor despite the cracks in the back. “We must improve the pressure. We cannot always be in our low-block field ”, he warned after the difficulties in Milan and Valencia, almost all resolved by Courtois.

The mutation has given rise to a lighter and more direct Madrid that has an obvious numerical translation. He adds 21 goals in favor in these six league games for the nine last year at this point. And in his goal the situation is also different and not so positive: eight conceded, double. The blanket, so far, does not cover his entire body, and he is often left in the open behind, but the global accounts come out. The 16 points are his best record for eight courses.

The scoring figures progress, and weigh more, and the way of reaching the rival area changes. One of the clearest differences is that he makes fewer centers: 21.3 per game last season and 17 this season, according to the Opta company. The hanging of balls was of the signs in both times of Zidane. Now, Madrid is twelfth in this section when the previous year it was sixth. The use of the wings has varied: with Ancelotti they are used to open the defense, especially with Vinicius, rather than as a base for shipments to the pot. And that leaves a consequence: there are more dribbles attempted (25-18.6) and completed (15-11.3). The success rate is identical (60%), what changes is the number of attempts.

For now, the new route is successful. It is a more finisher Madrid: eight shots on goal this season compared to 4.5 last season, a statistic also reinforced by marksmanship. At San Siro he shot twice and hit once; in Villamarín three and put one; and the Ciutat de València tried it five times and scored three.

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The goal is the maximum expression of a team that wins when it plays regularly or badly, and that scores when it does well. Name by name, there aren’t many exceptions to this “honeymoon” moment, Ancelotti’s status that has carried over to almost all of his boys. Vinicius (five goals) is the protagonist of a phenomenon that nobody saw coming, Benzema (eight plus seven assists) still had room for improvement, Asensio joined the feast with a triplet after a start in the storage room, Camavinga lands and produces, Rodrygo decides in the Champions League, even Isco celebrates a year and a half later … And all this without losing the contribution of the outsiders, a Madrid classic from ZZ (Nacho got into Vitoria and Carvajal struck down Betis).

In this awakening, only missing, curiously, the two initial bets: Bale and Hazard, starters in the first two meetings. The Welshman still got one before seriously injuring himself while the second, who still has not endured two games in a row in three days, is still in his particular alley. It does not matter, for the moment, to a Madrid that in this start has found water in wells that it believed to be dry. The goal has gone from being a problem to a mana.

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