One of the greatest summer surprise football fans received was Ronaldo’s departure to the Juventus.
Unlike other major transfer sagas, there were no rumours or lingering news, just a quick deal that happened at the speed of light, raking in both financial and social wealth for the buyers.
The next question everyone asked was, “Who will Replace Ronaldo?”
Eden Hazard had been on Real Madrid’s radar for more than two years, having attracted the Spanish giants with His mesmerizing skills. Hazard’s fall-out with Antonio Conte and Thibaut Courtois’s move to the Spanish capital made it look like Hazard would depart, however, he made a rather mystical choice to stay back at Chelsea.
The next option was Neymar whose first season though remarkable, was stained with blots of raucous and fallouts with Cavani and Thiago Silva, while his team mate, the football wonderboy, Kylian Mbappe was also tipped to replace him thanks to his proficiency as a striker, alas, Having bounced back from the UEFA Super cup defeat to Athletico’s defeat, how did Lopetuigi replace Ronaldo?
Real Madrid under Zidane was characterised with a swift movement of the ball, with Carvajal and Marcelo darting to and fro across the pitch, laying off high and cut-back crosses into the opponents’ box where the goal maestro, Ronaldo lurks, waiting for an opportunity to convert.
Although these key players are still present, Madrid now plays a heavily possession-based football where the ball is moved strategically from midfield across to both flanks then to the opponent box. Two major players have been crucial to this new pattern, and they are Isco and Kroos.
Tony Kroos has been a pristine pivot, distributing passes across the pitch while Isco has flourished in his pseudo “Number 10” role where he links up flawlessly with both wingers, while opening up spaces with his dazzling dribbles, the makes Real Madrid hold the ball more and conversely make their opponent have less of the ball.
No Focal Player.
When you have a machine that churns out 40 goals plus for about eight consecutive seasons, it is natural that the team makes him their backbone, thus Ronaldo’s presence meant that everyone indirectly works to give Ronaldo the final passes, half chances and open slots to shoot. With his departure, Real Madrid has no focal point when attacking thus opportunities open up to any of the three most advanced players and the results? Benzema has four goals in three matches.
From the player whose cameo appearances left captivating memories to the young lad with stunning longshots, Asensio is now an integral part of Lopetuigi’s team and enjoys a blossoming partnership with Bale who is enjoying an injury free season. Their pace has been germane to Madrid’s break as they link up well with Carvajal and Marcelo which makes the flanks a dangerous terrain for the opponents to roam. Gareth Bale’s physicality and Asensio’s daring abilities is a big plus to the team and their ability to switch their positions leave their opponents confused.
Although it is too early to determine the season’s trajectory, it is safe to say that Real Madrid is managing Ronaldo’s departure quite effectively. While we would miss the legendary El-Classicos that featured the two players who ruled the football world for a decade, Real Madrid has proven that they are not a one-man team.
Written by Emmanuel Faith.
Emmanuel Faith is a writer and poet based in Lagos. He relaxes with football matches and analysis when he isn’t reading a new book.
Source: Pluse ng