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Real Madrid are better off without a settled starting XI?

2.40K   //    21 Aug 2017, 17:27 IST

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final
Zinedine Zidane is a man with a golden touch

“What does the guy do?” asks the girl’s father to her. “He is a freelancer,” she replies. “Nope, he is not settled, I can’t agree to marry you off to him,” he replies. “But, father, he earns close to six figures in a month,” she retorts.

“Still, it doesn’t matter – he is not settled, end of discussion,” he responds.

The upper incident reflects the society that we live in. Being ‘settled’ is something every parent seeks in a son-in-law or a son and, in some places, a daughter or a daughter-in-law.

Freelancers, meanwhile, are the nomads of our age – working for various companies without actually being able to call any of them as their own. And it is not really seen in a good light, especially in the less-developed countries. But is it really all that bad being a freelancer?

As a freelancer, you have the ability to work in your undies while also being safer than a person with a 9-5 job given that you work for various organizations and wouldn’t matter much if your services are of no use to one of them. 

It brings into perspective of how pointless being ‘settled’ could be. What’s the point of it when you are better off being an itinerant? 

Real Madrid are the football freelancers

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga
Kovacic is among the 'backups' in fine form

In the football fraternity, Real Madrid are somewhat of a freelancer. Their squad is of such variety – and of so much talent – that regardless of the lineup that they play, they are almost certain to end up winning. 

Players like Marcos Llorente and Jesus Vallejo are finding it hard to be even in the matchday squads, let alone on the bench. With the likes of Mateo Kovacic and Marco Asensio playing so well whenever given the chance, it brings a fundamental aspect of the game into light in order to keep them all content: rotations.

Last season, the former midfield maestro used rotations very well by the second half of the season to help Madrid win a double. Cristiano Ronaldo was at his optimum fitness level and scored every week to push the Blancos to glory. 

Meanwhile, Isco’s rise to prominence in the second of the season also represents the intelligence of the former Juventus midfielder. This season, it looks like he is going to take his shuffling to another level. 

In the four matches that the Galacticos have played so far this season, they have used four different starting XIs – and ended up with four wins and two titles. Indeed, the astute strength of the Merengues can be found in the fact that they played a fluid midfield trio of Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos and still dominated the battle in the middle and desecrated Barcelona.

And Kovacic and Asensio were the stars of those encounters. This has prompted Zidane into admitting that he has no set starting XI as he will continue making changes in almost every other game. Looking at the squad of Real Madrid – he should do precisely that.

Against the weaker teams, he can play a fluid midfield without Casemiro. Even the Brazilian’s presence on the pitch seems to give the Galacticos a goal-scoring threat from deep midfield as he has scored three goals in his last five official games. 

And then there is Marcos Llorente. It won’t be long before the youth academy graduate of Real Madrid will take over from Sergio Busquets as Spain’s starting holding midfield player. The former Alaves loanee is not only a brilliant winner of the ball, but is also a fluent passer of it. 

He might not be someone who makes flashy Hollywood passes, but he does his job exceedingly well by playing quick touch passes to keep the tempo of the team ticking. With even the backup players to the backup players being so good, the former World Cup winning midfielder has to banish the concept of a settled starting XI if he wishes to make the best use of the quality that he has at his disposal.

And we can already see him doing precisely that. After starting the season with tremendous performances against Manchester United and Barcelona, Raphael Varane was rested and Nacho was given the chance against Deportivo. 

Similarly, the star of the Clasicos, Marco Asensio, could only play for a few minutes against Deportivo. Even Isco and Gareth Bale were both on the bench against Barcelona in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup. 

So if this is a sign of things to come, we could expect the likes of Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernandez and Marcos Llorente featuring a lot more than they have in the opening days of the season. 

As a player, Zidane was a time-traveler that could actually see things in slow motion and make the best use of it. As a manager, he is a wizard that knows how to adjust with the requirements of the situations. And right now, the situation demands Real Madrid to not be settled, to be a freelancer that earns more than a fixed job-holder. 


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Writing was just a hobby I picked to escape from the stress of A-levels. And now, it is exactly what pays my bills every month. Write for multiple platforms with interest in both football and cricket. Have a tendency to be on the dark side.
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