Lately, Real Madrid fans have been waxing poetic about Toni Kroos. The star midfielder had another Man of the Match display this past weekend in a 4-1 win over Granada, and it is fair to say that he is picking up where he left off last season before suffering a nagging injury that took him out of matches to start the 2021-2022 campaign.
But Kroos isn’t the only player rediscovering his best form post-injury. Another foundational star of the three-peat Champions League sides is quietly excelling, too. He just doesn’t get assists and plays a position where it is easy to get underrated. (Yes, even easier than Kroos!)
Dani Carvajal was tremendous in a narrow win over Rayo Vallecano before the international fixtures, just as Kroos was. And on Sunday at Los Carmenes, Carvajal was, once again, operating at the highest level at right back.
We know the difference makes when Carvajal is the lineup. Trent Alexander-Arnold may be the best right back in the world right now, but Carvajal is the most established due to his years of experience in Champions League finals and high-stakes La Liga fixtures. He’s also incredibly complete, which is an important asset to the highly-attacking Real Madrid.
Dani Carvajal is as well-rounded as they come
They asked a lot of him against Granada on both ends of the pitch, and Carvajal delivered. He was constantly supporting attacks, and he continues to play flawlessly defensively. It is rare to find a fullback who can work so hard offensively yet yield so little defensively. And we know Carvajal has top-notch technical ability on the right side. He meets the standards of attacking play at Real Madrid when he is on the ball.
Injury after injury slowed Carvajal down for most of 2021, but he finally seems to be healthy and in his best form. It was tough seeing Carvajal hurt and not playing at his best, because we all know what he is capable of when he isn’t being held back by injuries.
Carvajal has now put together a string of strong performances at a position where Real lack depth. His importance to the team remains underappreciated, just as it was during Los Blancos’ historic Champions League run. But true Madridistas have noticed the improvement from Carvajal – the return to the standard he has set at right back for so many years.
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So as the schedule toughens up with Sevilla at the weekend and then both Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid thereafter in La Liga, we can look to Carvajal to help lead the way. As he showed last year at around this time in El Derbi, the 29-year-old is more than capable of being a difference-maker. Yes, even at right back.