Real Madrid: Rodrygo shakes up battle for right-wing berth
Rodrygo Goes' performances have seen him leap to the front of the queue for Real Madrid's right-wing spot, where there's no shortage of competition.
If there is one position in which Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has a surfeit of options, it is on the right of the attack.
Several members of Madrid's squad can operate there: Gareth Bale, Lucas Vázquez, Brahim Díaz, long-term injury victim Marco Asensio... But it is Rodrygo Goes who has now pushed himself to the front of Zidane's thinking, earning a place in the starting line-up for Los Blancos' past two games - against Galatasaray and Leganés - and impressing with his displays.
Rodrygo elbows past Vázquez amid Bale absence
At the start of the season, a then-rehabilitated Bale was Zidane's first choice for the role. Over the pre-season, the coach had tried out a range of alternatives that also included Vinicius Júnior and Takefusa Kubo, but once Bale's summer exit had fallen through, he placed his faith in the 30-year-old. Overall, the Welshman amassed 468 minutes on the right until he returned injured from international duty.
Minutes played on the right of Real Madrid's attack
With Asensio unavailable, Vázquez was second in line to play on the right. Having appeared for 248 minutes in the position, though, he has now slipped further down the pecking order as a result of Rodrygo's emergence in Madrid's last three games, which have seen the Brazilian get a total of 192 minutes of right-wing action.
Other players who have operated on the right since the season began are James Rodríguez (86 minutes), Vinicius (67), and Eden Hazard (who swapped over from his usual spot on the left for the final seven minutes of September's draw at Villarreal).
Rodrygo's first-team prospects aided by versatility
Although he is serving Zidane extremely well on the right, Rodrygo holds an ace card if the going gets tough in the race for places: his versatility. He has featured on the left for Raúl's Castilla, and made his first-team debut against Osasuna on that flank. On top of that, he played as part of a midfield three against Bayern Munich in pre-season.
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