Real Madrid: Zidane spreads the workload
Los Blancos manager made five substitutions against Celta, after eight games in which he used the bench sparingly, and more pitchtime is being shared around.
Where there is room for 14, there is room for a few more. Zinedine Zidane's generosity of pitch time has grown and the Real Madrid players appear to be benefiting from that change in heart.
Zidane spreading the workload more
After a stretch in which the French coach concentrated on a small group of first-team stars, in the last few years he has opened up to new faces. Between the two most recent games against Elche and Celta Vigo, for example, 18 players got the nod, and this has allowed the likes of Mendy, Kroos and Modric to get some rest.
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Zidane is not, however, using his five substitute options on a regular basis. In fact, although the full complement were brought on against the Galician visitors, he did not make more than three changes in any of the eight previous matches. Only one switch, Asensio-Rodrygo, was chosen against Sevilla. After Bordalás, Zidane is the second boss in LaLiga Santander making the least substitutes during a game this season, an average of 3.59 per match.
Marcelo was a surprise inclusion in the XI against Elche to end 2020. The Brazilian had featured for just over an hour in the preceding ten games, and that was in the defeat to Alavés. We’ve also seen the return of Hazard after multiple injuries.
The starting eleven against Celta saw the almost obligatory arrival of Nacho to cover the absence of Sergio Ramos. And he was one of the most impressive figures in the side. Odegaard came off the bench near the end, and Mariano got a few token minutes, a decision that suggests he’s moved ahead of €60-million Jovic as back-up to Karim Benzema.
The increased spread is notable, but doesn’t reach everyone in the squad, yet. As well as the Serbian, Militao and Odriozola are also missing out. Isco, is another one that has had some game time when available, albeit minimal. Paternity leave meant he missed Elche and he only had 12 minutes against Granada. But with the Malaga-born player, 19 different players have been involved in the last three games.
In a season that has games coming thick and fast, and this could worsen if covid-19 leads to postponements, spreading the workload could prove beneficial for the run-in.