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Zidane has the solution to his problem - but it is not Lucas Vazquez

11.22K   //    01 Nov 2017, 14:01 IST

Real Madrid CF v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg
Find a partner that trusts you like Zidane trusts Vazquez

There are times in the life of a writer when she/he just opens an empty word file and stares blankly at it. Words that once so easily flowed out now seem to come to pass. And you just stare and stare till you get lost in the dull whiteness of the blank screen.

For the ones that earn their bread and butter through writing, this is a problem. After all, your life depends on it. In times like these, the seasoned writer will forcefully churn out something because they have to, or else there is a risk of starving to death - which, obviously, sounds like an exaggeration, but perhaps it isn't.

The result of this is a product as drab as a Justin Bieber concert is for someone who grew up listening to Pink Floyd.

Right now, Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid find themselves in a similar place.

The over-reliance on Vazquez

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final
Zidane is the only manager to win two back-to-back CL titles

Times change so quickly, no? Just a few months ago, Zinedine Zidane was being hailed as the best thing on earth since the invention of Biryani. But now, however, there are quite a few people that seem to have grown frustrated with his decision-making so far this season. One of their biggest concerns has been the Frenchman's tendency to rely on Lucas Vazquez to play a game-changing role.

Vazquez has been a great player for Zidane. The gaffer has placed immense trust on him and he has almost always delivered. This has led to Vazquez becoming a bunny-like pet to Zidane that he seems to adore way more than could have thought.

Vazquez is Zidane's most trusted first substitute. It doesn't matter whether Real Madrid are trailing or drawing or winning, Vazquez is always brought on by the former Real Madrid midfield maestro.

The fact that the former Espanyol winger has played in all but one game is a telling testament to the above claim. Last season, it worked - Vazquez did play a crucial role almost every time after being brought from the bench.


This season, however, the Spaniard has been going through a rocky patch and it seems absurd to continue bringing him on in situations where the Galacticos need a goal.

Against Girona last week, the Catalan outfit overran the Madrid midfield with relative ease and scored two goals in quick succession to overcome a 1-0 deficit. Zidane responded by bringing on Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio - who also hasn't been anywhere near as effective and good since the Clasicos earlier this season.

Zidane has a solution and it's not Vazquez

Real Madrid CF v Real Sociedad de Futbol - La Liga
Madrid have missed Kovacic

This brings us to the conclusion that Zidane's approach -- dare I say it -- hasn't been the right one. Of course, the man is a Ballon d'Or and the Manager of the Year winner and I am a keyboard warrior wearing nothing but a towel in a third-world country, so I am in no place to pass judgment about someone like him.

But that's what writers do - and I, for one, think that Zidane has a problem and Vazquez is not the solution.

Of course, almost all problems have a solution. Fortunately for Zidane, he has one right in his disposal: Dani Freaking Ceballos.

The signing of the former Betis man seemed absurd from the very beginning due to the ever-burgeoning presence of Mateo Kovacic. The Croat has been consistently improving at the club and was one of the key figures in Madrid's Clasico wins against Barcelona in the Super Cup.

However, despite bringing some new faces in the medical team, the number of injuries at the club have been staggering - and Mateo Kovacic was one of those players. One would have thought that if there any a time to defend the signing of Ceballos, it would be now given that Kovacic is out and Ceballos has the necessary qualities to take the place of the former Inter man.

Kovacic's directness from deep midfield always befuddles the opponents. He is like a Robert Prosinecki playing in deep midfield, but with more all-round qualities than the former Barcelona man.

The former Zagreb starlet's ability to run forward with the ball from deep midfield drives the team forward as a whole. While Luka Modric has also shown this ability throughout his career, he seems to have lost some pace over this year and isn't replicating those runs of before.

This surprise element from midfield is what helps break the deadlock against sturdy defences and now that Kovacic isn't there to do it and Modric has lost the pace to effectively execute it, it seems as though Real Madrid have run out of options.

Except that they have not - they have Dani Ceballos

Germany v Spain - 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Final
Ceballos has started only two games for the Blancos

The U21 Euro 2017 Player of the Tournament is a player in the similar mould. The Spaniard is an astute dribbler of the ball -- he made 2.7 dribbles-per-game in La Liga last season, more than any Real Madrid player did -- and has the tendency to make destructive runs from midfeld.

And he showed just that when given the chance by 'Zizou' as he scored two goals in his first ever start for the Blancos against Alaves. He backed it up with another tidy performance in his next start against Eibar, marshalling the team from midfield while also guarding the defence that helped the team keep a clean-sheet.

Which is why it is absurd to not see him play more often. In a team that has midfielders like Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric, it is only natural to see Ceballos warming the bench, but the insistence on keeping him there even when the Galacticos need a goal to change the outcome of the game in their favour is just baffling.

Like mentioned earlier, Girona were able to get the better of Madrid midfield and Zidane actually went on full Football Manager mode when he subbed in two wingers to play as full-backs. This might work in the game, but it is just laughable in real life as Madrid's midfield looked further fragile and they were actually lucky to not lose by a greater margin.

In that game, bringing Ceballos could have given Madrid's midfield the necessary spark and the unpredictable factor that they had been missing, but it didn't happen due to Zidane's persistence with Lucas Vazquez.

However, Zidane could yet rectify his error. With Kovacic still out for a while, it is time for Zidane to use his next best alternative to unlock defences from deep midfield - and that is Dani Ceballos.

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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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