Although it is the leader of La Liga, Real Madrid does not approach the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League against PSG (this Tuesday at 9 p.m. on RMC Sport) in the best mood. But the return of certain executives, starting with Karim Benzema, should do him good. Especially since with the Frenchman in his team, the Real game is based on a few certainties.
Without Karim Benzema, Real Madrid is no longer quite the same team. Indispensable to the collective expression and the offensive performance of Real, he who superforms in the conversion of opportunities this season, the French missed his team a lot last weekend, against Villarreal (0-0). The draw conceded against the “yellow submarine” also confirmed Real’s new difficulties in 2022 – a victory in the last four matches, in all competitions, including elimination in the quarter-finals of the King’s Cup. The few certainties stored up in the first part of the season have been fading since the start of the year.
Real Madrid sometimes struggles to set up their game, and have barely scored in recent weeks, only one but in the last three games – all played without Benzema. “We lacked a bit of realism in recent games, recognized Ancelotti on Saturday. Today (Saturday), with a little more realism or luck, we could have scored. We had three face-to-face meetings with the goalkeeper , we hit the crossbar twice… What worries me more is the first period, when the team didn’t want to and wasn’t in the game. the duels, and that’s why Villarreal had control of the match.”
It has happened several times this season that Real suffers from wanting to back down too much, without exerting the slightest pressure, contenting themselves with waiting for the opponent to better sting them on the counter. In this configuration, the team is not always able to control the enthusiasm of its opponents, as was the case against Villarreal, where Marcelo spent fifteen minutes in his lane. Fortunately, Carlo Ancelotti has in his ranks a very high level goalkeeper, the Belgian Thibaut Courtois. Long decried in recent seasons, the international has seen other goalkeepers pass him in front of the world hierarchy. But he seems to be regaining his luster this season.
Real’s favorite game plan: exploding on the counter
Courtois still had to face Villarreal to preserve his clean sheet, as he had done against Granada, or Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League, a competition where he managed to align four clean sheets in six matches, conceding only three small goals in a group which included very attacking teams. Courtois is ready to take center stage in the Champions League on Tuesday, if he needs to show off. He is also not excluded from seeing the best face of Real, observed in the Supercopa de España.
Real Madrid can suffer and give up control of the game to their opponent, it is even their favorite game plan, because it allows them to explode when recovering the ball by taking advantage of the speed of Vinicius, one of the best world players on the counterattack. Defensive transition will also be a major issue for Paris Saint-Germain against Real if they plan to press this team loud and clear – something they have rarely done this season, by the way. Real have technically very sure players capable of getting out of complicated situations against aggressive and compact blocks.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team know they have the weapons to clear the pressing when cornered with the ball. Karim Benzema, by the accuracy of his movements and his understanding of the game, the relays of Modric or the crosses of Toni Kroos… Madrid’s assets are legion to facilitate the first recovery and switch the game to air. The level of Ferland Mendy is also proving to be a valuable asset in this regard. Still, the French side, like his compatriot Karim Benzema, have not played the last three games, while Luka Modric was content with a quarter of an hour against Villarreal for the clash against PSG. A data to take into account, necessarily, when we know the importance of these players.