How Jude Bellingham and Brahim Diaz balanced Real Madrid’s defense


It appears like Rodrygo has begun to float. A dribbling apocalypse is about to be unleashed by him, following a relatively quiet first quarter of the season. Throughout the past two months, his attacks have been particularly vicious. Even in situations where he does not score, defenders are unable to prevent him from slipping through their grasp:

Whenever Rodrygo moves with the ball, he does so in a manner that serves a specific goal. He moves with such ferocious speed that it appears as though he is racing without the ball while the ball becomes attached to his feet.

Once defenses have barricaded themselves in their end zone, he wants to break lines, find spaces, and deliver the ball to his teammates who are in the box.

A significant portion of the reason he leads La Liga in carries into the penalty area is due to the manner in which he drives the ball forward by utilizing shoulder drops and step-overs at full velocity.

Jeremy Doku, Dejan Kulusevski, and Kaoru Mitoma are the only three players in Europe who have more carries into the opposition’s box than any other player in the league on this season. As soon as Rodrygo makes the decision that it is time to grill, no one will interrupt his BBQ session:

As the number of minutes has increased, Brahim continues to impress. He has proven himself in a couple of different roles in Carlo Ancelotti’s new strategy, including either as the 10, which he played well in during Jude Bellingham’s shoulder injury, or as the side-kick to Rodyrgo up top.

He has gained the faith of Carlo Ancelotti through incidents such as injuries, suspensions, and his own outstanding play.

He has demonstrated that he is capable of coexisting with Bellingham in a double 10 or deeper, as a less involved roamer, or as a greater usage creator when Bellingham is not on the field.

When it comes to injuries, I always find it somewhat awkward to discuss the positive aspects of the situation. The club has been plagued by injuries during the course of this season, and nobody wants any of them to happen.

Although this is true, Brahim has been able to demonstrate that he is a crucial member of the squad because to the absences of Vinicius and Bellingham throughout the course of the season. He has also demonstrated that he has produced at a high level across a significant sample size.

On the offensive side of things, Brahim has also been very good (this aspect is more visible). As a nimble, highly talented roamer, he is able to take up difficult situations, which has provided Bellingham with an additional body to join up with:

We were reminded of the reasons why Brahim was such a promising adolescent and how, prior to signing with COVID, he was one of the finest attacking midfielders in Serie A. Brahim’s prominence this season has brought this to our attention.

While he was mostly a winger up until that point, he gained a lot of knowledge about playing the 10 position while he was under the tutelage of Stefano Pioli. And now he is both.

There are instances when we seem to spend an excessive amount of time analyzing the exact posture of Jude Bellingham. There are a lot of people who believe that he is a striker, particularly those who are not familiar with Real Madrid and who do not follow his games in the same way.

It is simply his goal total that they consider. He is considered by some to be a versatile midfielder who is capable of influencing the game in a variety of different ways.

Is it really so important at this point in time? The fact that he is currently on the field, scoring goals, generating goals, and maintaining the defensive equilibrium of the club by being an attacker who presses, tracks, and assists in escaping pressure is the most important thing.

Every ninety seconds, Bellingham is achieving career-highs in the following categories: progressive carries, progressive passes, progressive passes received, shot-creating actions, key passes, through-balls, expected assists, goals, goal-creating actions (he averages one per game, which means that you are going into every game with him on the field with a goal in the pocket), passes blocked, overall blocks, touches in the attacking third, touches in the penalty area, and aerial duel winning percentage.

To suggest that there may have never been a player (and if there has been, it is a shortlist that includes Alfredo di Stefano) who has impacted the team in such a powerful, two-way, and multi-faceted manner in his first season at Real Madrid is not at all absurd. In fact, it is not even quite outlandish.

During that particular sequence, he was deep because the team was pinned after a set-piece, but there have been plenty of instances this season where he has covered for his left-back in more natural game-state situations.

This has been a lot of onus for him because the left-winger (Vinicius or Rodrygo) is frequently higher up the pitch waiting for the outlet pass.


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