Facing Atalanta, Zinedine Zidane will have to compose without Karim Benzema. An absence of weight for the French tactician.
Tonight, Real Madrid is back to its fetish competition. The troops of Zinedine Zidane, who return rather well to the La Liga with this series of four victories, will want to recover the throne, against Atalanta, revelation of the last edition. The team of Serie A is also on a rather positive dynamic, but no doubt that Gian Piero Gasperini prepares this shock with more serenity than his French counterpart … The Marseilles native is thus deprived of nine players, among whom Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard, but especially Karim Benzema. An absence of weight, necessarily, which completely truncates the preparation of the meeting for the Madrid troops.
It’s simple, Zinedine Zidane has lost his offensive reference, in a context where the other players lined up on the flank of the attack are struggling to distinguish. Only Marco Asensio was, in recent weeks, able to make differences in the last few meters.
Not to mention the fact that he has no substitutes in the squad, Mariano Diaz being out of rhythm as he showed against Valladolid this weekend. The Merengue tactician, who let Luka Jovic go on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt in January, therefore has few, if any, real alternatives to cover the absence of his number 9.
The ideal match for Mariano?
In a team with an already sluggish offensive animation, where salvation comes more and more from individual actions, second balls or quick transitions, the absence of the tricolor striker is even more detrimental. This season, we have seen that without the Frenchman, the balance sheet is difficult.
Certainly, there was the success against Valladolid – nineteenth in La Liga – last weekend, but without the OL-trained player, there was the defeat against Valencia (4-1), the draw against Villarreal (1-1) and the defeat against Alavés (2-1). Only this victory against Inter (2-0) last November was a real reference game on which Zinedine Zidane can rely. This match is also interesting, since coach Merengue had swapped the usual 4-3-3 for a 4-2-3-1, with Ødegaard as number 10 and a double Kroos-Modric pivot.
A particularly offensive approach therefore, aiming to control the ball as much as possible (Casemiro was on the bench), and thus maximize the number of hot situations on the edge of the surface.
With Mariano Diaz in attack, the Merengues may however have other alternatives. The Hispano-Dominican is thus more formidable in the deep game than his tricolor teammate, as he also seems better in the aerial game, although Benzema remains effective in this area as well. A rather positive point, when you consider the tendency of Madrid’s full-backs to bombard the opponent’s surface with crosses.
Facing Atalanta, a team that is offensive to say the least, Mariano also risks having space available, and thus scoring points to play a more or less important role by the end of the season. But for this type of match, there is no doubt that Zinedine Zidane would have preferred to count on his faithful lieutenant rather than hoping for a coup d’éclat from a player who doesn’t even have 400 minutes on the clock this season …