Real Madrid will have to do everything right after the November international break ends, because they will have consecutive league matches that will play a key role in deciding their season. After trying to obtain revenge on Sheriff in the Champions League, Real will face Sevilla, Real Sociedad, and Atletico Madrid all in a row, with an additional big Champions League fixture in between the matches against La Real and Atleti (a match vs. Serie A champions Inter Milan).
Carlo Ancelotti did a great job of responding after the October international break, as Real Madrid bounced back from tough losses to Sheriff and Espanyol. In order to help the team advance further in La Liga and maintain their form in the Champions League, Ancelotti needs to stick to an initial attacking decision he made.
The returning manager wanted to turn Marco Asensio into an attacking midfielder, seeing as how the player just does not have the one-on-one quality, consistency, and defensive intensity to be a winger in this team. He has made a similar decision with Eden Hazard.
But whereas Hazard has not found himself back on the wing in a position he no longer fits, Asensio recently got significant minutes on the right wing.
Marco Asensio on the wing is dropped points waiting to happen
Somehow, he started against Osasuna and was horrendous in a 0-0 draw. It is not a stretch to say he was the worst player on the pitch for Los Blancos. The second time was due to an injury to Rodrygo Goes early in an eventual, Vinicius Junior-carried win over Elche. And the third time, Ancelotti made the decision to start Asensio against Rayo Vallecano, giving him 83 minutes in a narrow victory.
Asensio did not play poorly, recording three key passes to help Real Madrid creatively. But he didn’t exactly play well either. Asensio made poor decisions in front of goal, and he remains the kind of player who struggles to make things happen on his own. Rayo, like Mallorca, offered Asensio a lot of real estate, as they defended very poorly. Yet unlike against Mallorca in an attacking midfield role, the No. 11 could not take advantage.
That’s because Asensio just isn’t a right winger in Real’s 4-3-3. He does not fit this position. For a whole season under Zinedine Zidane, Asensio was woeful. This season, his best performance was a decent display against Rayo, whereas you would expect a right winger at Madrid to be a standout against such an opponent.
In three matches, Asensio had a couple of good passes and nothing else to show for his efforts. Ancelotti had the right idea by moving Asensio away from the position. I understand that things have been complicated with Rodrygo, Gareth Bale, and even Fede Valverde out injured. All three will be back after the November break. And even then, I have a hard time seeing how Asensio as a right winger is a better solution than Hazard, Luka Jovic, Isco, or even some other setup.
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Real Madrid may be trying to help give Asensio chances to boost his transfer value, but, as we saw against Osasuna and nearly against Elche and Rayo, playing someone so stagnant at such an important attacking position can lead to dropped points. It certainly did last season. That doesn’t mean Asensio can’t play, but an attacking midfield role against the likes of Mallorca is more his speed. No pun intended.