In January it will be ten years since Marcelo joined Real Madrid. And how we praise that fateful day when he arrived here in the capital! A decade on and he’s still playing with the spritely enthusiasm of a youth team player. He came with the unenviable task of taking over the number 3 shirt worn by Roberto Carlos, a football legend, and you could go as far as saying that he made sure that the nostalgia for RC3’s departure was more short-lived that it might have been. Without being a carbon copy (they are two very different players – Marcelo doesn’t have the pace or power of his predecessor, but he is more skilfully), there are many similarities – the continual incursions up the left flank, the casual, informal side to their game and of course, the permanent smile. Like the man who went before him, he covers the 100 metres of his wing, and with great frequency, is the key piece in Madrid’s attacking moves.
And yesterday in Michigan, he was just that. He formed a brilliant association with Asensio (which reminded me of that old Menotti quote: “Small societies make great teams”.), he scored two wonderful goals, stated the move which produced the third – a sensational, powerhouse strike from Mariano... He was the reason why Madrid won the game, with the team ploughing all of its moves down the left channel where he engaged the team mates closest to him. Chelsea, who had started the game well, haemorrhaged down that flank – they were simply unable to stop Marcelo. Pedro tried - clumsily, by booting Marcelo and Asensio, but the only thing he achieved was earning himself a place in the ref’s notebook.
Marcelo’s efforts left the game in Madrid’s hands. This time Zidane left his big guns (among whom, Asensio) on the pitch until the 63rd minute, then brought on the younger players but the match was already over. Without Asensio Madrid were not the same. They played with class and determination but lacked penetration and concentration at the back. Chelsea, who had previously warned Madrid with an effort from Batshuayi (a very good striker by the way), ended up scoring twice through Hazard, the second of which right on full-time. It was certainly an entertaining game to watch and Madrid made up for the depreciated image they displayed against PSG - although, it has to be said, much of that was down to Marcelo.