When Zinedine Zidane decided, two months after arriving on the Madrid bench, that he had to definitively hand over a position in the center of the field to Casemiro to sew the team, the Brazilian found himself in his second game with a situation that, without He could imagine it then, few times more would he live: at his side were neither Kroos nor Modric. That afternoon the contingency ended very successfully for their interests (7-1 against Celta, with Isco and Kovacic at their side), but the result did not encourage anyone to repeat it voluntarily on many more occasions. Only when the script forced or pushed it, in 28 games in six seasons, just 8% of the total. And almost always, fortunately for the whites, on days that were not of the highest priority. What did not prevent, however, that some end in total sinister, like last season against Alcoyano in the Cup (2-1).
By physical imperative, this will be the situation that Carlo Ancelotti will have to manage in his second league match, an opportunity to see what tactical and player variants he manages before this sudoku game. The loss due to Kroos’ pubalgia (he no longer played in Vitoria) was joined this Friday by Modric, due to discomfort in an adductor, which for the moment is out against Levante (22.00, Movistar). Of all the associations that raised the Whites to their three Champions League in a row, that of Casemiro-Kroos-Modric is the only one that remains standing. The BBC got rid of it a long time ago, Cristiano left, Bale survives hooked on the respirator and this summer the pair of centrals that had been non-negotiable (Ramos-Varane) flew in less than a month. But there is still the Rio-German-Croatian axis to give meaning to the game. Since 2016, practically 40% of Madrid’s crashes have started all three at the same time (129 times), avoiding injuries, cards, breaks and technical criteria.
The foul alongside Kroos and Modric seriously affects the team’s ball output. Last Saturday in Mendizorroza, without the Teuton, it was the Balkan in charge of delaying his position to spin football from behind. In the Ciudad de Valencia, without one or the other, whatever the solution may be, it takes Madrid out of its safety zone of the last five years when starting the game.
Flattery from Casemiro and Valverde
Carlo Ancelotti was not particularly concerned about it this Saturday. “In the middle we are fine without these two stars, we are capable of competing,” said the Italian, who revealed that he is testing Asensio in the midfield. “I am training him as a midfielder on the left and on the right, in a three-way midfield. I think you can do it. He likes to see what happens ”, revealed the white coach. A few words that place the Balearic, until now a member of the attackers battery, as an option to cover that gap in the gestation of the game.
Casemiro and Valverde, whom he also praised at the previous press conference, aim to occupy two fixed places in that wide plot. Isco, Alaba (he already played there for Bayern, although it would force the defense to move), and the youth squad Antonio Blanco would be other natural possibilities. The one who no longer counts is Odegaard, who fired on the way to Arsenal after leaving no less than 35 million euros in cash. Neither did Ceballos, injured.
If this double absence of Kroos and Modric has been unusual since 2016, even less recently. Only on ten occasions in the last three years has Madrid been seen without them from the start, and often in cup or very inconsequential league duels (none in Europe). Even so, it has not been spared several scares and a few blows. To which he took in Alcoy last January, we must add the defeat in the autumn of 2019 in Mallorca (1-0) that put Zidane in a dangerous whirlwind, with the name of Mourinho ringing his ears. The best memory in all this five years, on the other hand, dates from 2018, in the round of 16 of the Champions League in Paris (1-2).
Last season, in addition to the trigger in the Cup, in the final stretch he was left without them three more times, and in two of them he did not have a good time. Against Elche (2-1), ZZ had to resort urgently to the Croatian and the German to flee the alley with a double from Benzema. And against Osasuna (2-0), only the appearance in extremis de Militão avoided the skid. The exception was the visit to Cádiz (0-3), resolved with three strokes of Benzema.
Perhaps for this reason, last year the three played together more than ever. The Frenchman ranked them above the average, in half of the games, and that he did not do it for the first time until the end of November. But things got tough, and while the forces held out, the golden triangle was immovable. The absence, therefore, of Kroos and Modric in Valencia places Madrid before the hole that has been least seen in recent times.