Real Madrid's problem with pressing and pace

Rassiq Aziz Kabir | Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Real Madrid, although qualifying against Chelsea last night after a nail-biting fight–that went to the extra time, played one of the worst matches of this season. The 3-2 scoreline in favour of Chelsea doesn’t quite render their complete dominance in the game. 

Real Madrid seemed hapless in front of Chelsea's pressing and pace, a problem they have faced constantly in the latter part of this season. 

The entire dynamic of the match changed when Carlo Ancelotti brought Eduardo Camavinga in place of Toni Kroos, as Madrid were finally able to deal with Chelsea's pressing.

Real Madrid's legendary midfield trio, although showing glimpses of their past at times, have been the main reason behind Real Madrid's struggle in this department. 

Modric, despite being the main creative initiator of the team, needs support from Kroos and Casemiro to deal with opposition press and pace. While speed was never one of the best attributes of Kroos, it has gotten worse with age. The same is the case for Casemiro.

Madrid started with Federico Valverde which proved to be a favourable gamble and it came even more to fruition when Camavinga joined him; Modric seemed to have enjoyed his creative duty without any burden due to that.

Despite the status quo in midfield being Madrid's Achilles hill when it comes to opposition pressing and pace, it is not restricted to that. 

Madrid's defenders, more specifically their fullbacks succumb to pressure more often than not and this seems to be one of the tactics applied by opposition managers, which Thomas Tuchel did last night as well.

Madrid's forward line and especially Karim Benzema is another antidote to pressing as he often drops back to function as a false nine which saves the team at times from the faults of the midfield. His absence against Barcelona proved to be fatal as Madrid looked completely clueless in front of the zonal pressing deployed by Xavi. 

Although Madrid has reinforced their arsenal in the form of buying young blood who can help them in this regard in the long run, due to their inexperience in the biggest stage of football, they have not been instrumental so far in gelling the team together. 

Hence, a paradigm shift in Carlo's tactics is essential as the team goes to the Semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. Other teams might look to exploit this weakness of Real Madrid and they might not overcome it against their probable rival in the semi-final, Manchester City.

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