Daniel Carvajal's lengthy lay-off with a heart condition posed a right-back dilemma for Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, and a sizeable challenge for Achraf Hakimi, drafted in to replace the Spanish defender. With the young Moroccan, Zidane opted for the most 'natural' solution, despite the fact that the youngster hadn't disputed any first-team minutes.
Real's Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund (1-3) earlier in the season was Dani Carvajal's last game on the right flank, just before he was diagnosed with pericarditis. In the following game, a 2-0 win over against Espanyol in La Liga, the French coach handed Achraf his opportunity, a decision he maintained for the following matches, the 1-2 win away to Getafe and the 1-1 draw at home to Spurs in the Champions League. Moreover, the new number '19' has risen to the challenge: in the three games mentioned above, the Madrid new boy’s performances have yielded very similar results to Carvajal.
Carvajal successfully completes 51.8 passes per game, Achraf 45, with the Moroccan notching up a passing accuracy rate of 89.4% compared to Carvajal's 86.6%. Both also send in 5.6 and 5.8 crosses per game, respectively. In ball recovery and retention both players also have similar numbers: 5 and 15.1 for Carvajal and 5.6 and 17.6 for Achraf per game. Although we're talking about a huge disparity in the number of games played by each player, the signs are encouraging and the Moroccan right-back's performances have repaid some of the faith Zidane has placed in him.