The breakthrough from the Uruguayan Fede Valverde has coincided with a considerable improvement in the collective performance of the Real Madrid team and this is by no means just chance. In addition to many other factors that have played a role in this improvement, Valverde himself, thanks to his footballing make-up, has helped to solve some of the deficiencies that Madrid were suffering from. The first and most obvious quality he brings to the side is his physical ability. The engine that the player possesses is fundamental in being able to link up in both attacking and defensive duties. He's first on hand to help the attackers and as quick to retreat when the ball is lost. Not only does he retreat, he also has a great ability to intercept and rob loose balls, offering invaluable assistance to Casemiro, who until recently was very much alone in his responsibilities.
Valverde influence on Real Madrid clear to see against PSG
This ability allows his team-mates to conserve energy levels and this was clear to see during Tuesday's game at the Bernabéu as Real Madrid faced Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. When Valverde was substituted, the dynamic of the side changed considerably. I'm not exclusively referring to goals, which can sometimes come about through accidents or from isolated passages of play, but about influencing factors that are connected with the art of defensing in a game of football. Valverde was positioned on the right wing and, when he was on the pitch, the Ligue 1 side conducted their attacks on his flank. PSG boss Thomas Tuchel decided to swap Kylian Mbappé’s position with the idea that he did not have to track back so much, with Madrid launching the bulk of their forays into the opposition half on the left hand side. Only when the Uruguayan was replaced did we start to see Mbappé and Juan Bernat begin to play with more freedom.
In addition to his fine display controlling that wing, one also has to make reference to the amount of interceptions the player made when tracking back, often in a diagonal position to add assistance to the central players. At times it seemed that the Madrid player had tentacles, as he was capable of reaching every ball that came within his grasp. I think that for Real Madrid to work well, Valverde has proven to be an invaluable member of the side and his accomplished performance on Tuesday playing alongside four midfielders will make him an indispensable player for Zinedine Zidane when the French coach is contemplating what type of side to field against major opposition.