Zidane's chosen

Long-term injuries leave Zidane without many options to risk his future in the Champions League against Atalanta on 24-F. First test against Valencia.


"It is the best thing that can happen to a coach, that making the team is a headache." This is the cliché that coaches often resort to when they have a squad loaded with players who deserve ownership and are sitting in the Bench. For Zidane, making decisions to gamble in the game against Atalanta will be easier than usual. Long-term injuries in key positions have left few options. So few, that today the eleven that will face the Italians is clear and it will be recited in this way: Courtois; Carvajal, Nacho, Varane, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Lucas Vázquez, Benzema and Asensio ... That, if there are no more mishaps before 24-F. They are the same eleven who will play against Valencia in a kind of dress rehearsal.

Of the eleven type that should be fall Ramos, operated on the inner meniscus of his left knee, and Hazard (he will not arrive after his last muscle injury). The only reasonable doubt could be between Lucas Vázquez and Vinicius, but once the Galician is recovered the choice for the coach seems clear. Lucas has managed to accumulate up to 20 titles in a row before his mishap, and has solved the ballot both on the right side and on the end. The freehand renewal has been won although it is not yet resolved.

The other position that could dance is in the center of the field, if Valverde manages to catch enough tone to dispute the position to one of the midfielders. But it seems almost impossible that Zidane is going to undo his Casemiro-Modric-Kroos trivote, with which he has won his three Champions League in a row. It's funny, in the last two finals won in that sequence, Isco was a starter along with the magic trivote. Now, the relationship between the Malaga player and the coach has deteriorated in such a way that the name of Isco does not even enter the equation.

The eleven of the last years.

There are very few new faces in the eleven type of Madrid for Atalanta. There would not be even if it were the gala with Hazard and Ramos included in it. In which he will have to play on the 24th in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16, there are only two players who have been signed in 2018 or later, Courtois and Mendy. On the other hand, there are up to six who arrived (signed or from the quarry) in 2013 or before. Son Benzema (2009); Varane (2011); Modric (2012); Carvajal, Nacho and Casemiro (2013)… Kroos arrived in 2014 and Lucas Vázquez and Asensio, in 2015. This statistic reveals the little influence that the latest additions made by Real Madrid have had, which spent 395 million on Militao, Vinicius , Rodrygo, Reinier, Jovic and Hazard, their last big outlay before turning off the tap.

Another piece of information that delves into the idea that Madrid's skeleton remains the same as that of that victorious team from the most recent past is that the average age of the eleven who must play against Atalanta is 29.1 years. Very high. There are four players who are over 30 years old (Nacho, Modric, Kroos and Benzema). The youngest are Mendy and Asensio, both with 25. And if Ramos (34) and Hazard (30) had been there, the data would be even worse. By comparison, the eleven guy from Atalanta, for example, is 27.1 years old on average. Without being very low, two less than Madrid. There are only two players of the Italian type eleven with 30 or more (Toloi and Ilicic) .

In any case, it will not be the first time that Zidane takes his magic for a walk when the situation seems more urgent. In the Champions League, he has already solved two match balls since he returned to the Madrid bench. Last season in Istanbul, where he was forced to score a point against Galatasaray to remain in the competition, and against Borussia Moenchengladbach this season, when victory was also mandatory. Real Madrid have lost in the second round of the competition (Ajax and City) in the last two seasons. Raising the apricot in this is the only thing that would ensure the continuity of the French coach. And he already has eleven.

Photos from as.com
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