3 reasons why Alvaro Odriozola is a smart signing for Real Madrid
Los Blancos made their first major signing of the summer by bringing in the young Spaniard from Real Sociedad for €35 million. He was part of the Spanish World Cup squad but wasn't used due to fears about his positional discipline and the space that he would leave that could be exploited on the counter.
It ended up being a hugely disappointing tournament for La Roja because they lost to Russia in the round of 16.
Odriozola impressed with La Real last season due to his attacking influence from the right-back position. Eusebio Sacristan's system brought the best out of him offensively, but it also left the team exposed due to the large pockets of space and highlighted defensive deficiencies in his game.
However, this is an intelligent signing by Real as they continue to build a strong, youthful Spanish core in the team. Here are three reasons why Los Blancos were right to bring him in...
#3 Attacking mindset
Real are a team that will certainly benefit from his willingness to play high up the pitch and his ability in the final third. Marcelo was basically used as a wide playmaker by Zinedine Zidane last season, while Dani Carvajal spent large chunks of matches in the opposition half.
Julen Lopetegui is likely to use a more structured system than Zidane who gave his players a lot of creative freedom, but the full-backs will still be key attacking-wise.
Controlling possession is likely to be a lot more important under Lopetegui with less of a focus on lightning-quick transitions, which became a hallmark of the team in the Champions League. Although it could still be a useful tool if needed depending on the style of the opposition because Lopetegui is pragmatic.
In Real Madrid's attacking shape, the full-backs will be key in creating overloads and providing deep runs to break down the opposition in wide areas. Stretching the opposition and circulating possession quickly from one flank to the other is an effective way to create openings from opposition mistakes and man advantages.
Deep runs pose huge problems for the defence because of the uncertainty over who they should be tracking the runner as well as the speed advantage they have over a static defender. However, having a full-back who can make use of the space they find themselves in is important. Odriozola provided examples of that with his four assists in the league as well as his goal in the Europa League.
Carvajal is an excellent defender, but he can sometimes struggle in promising offensive situations. Therefore, Odriozola provides Lopetegui with a more attacking option either to start with or to bring on as a substitute to help break down a stubborn defence.
Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos are used to covering large areas, so the space he vacates is less of an issue than it was at Real Sociedad.