This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Real Madrid have been struggling with injuries for a while now and that has left them with few options in the new 2019/20 La Liga season. But looking at how most of those injuries have come in the left wing position, maybe a swap of formations would solve this problem.
Currently, there are six players sidelined by injuries in the Real Madrid squad and Zinedine Zidane must be trying to figure out how to deal with that as we speak. Four of those six players, however, are also left-wingers, including their big summer signing, Eden Hazard. Looking ahead to the games that are due, fixing this issue will probably be a priority for the French coach.
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And of course, one of the options is to try and turn someone into a make-shift winger for a while or at least until someone more qualified becomes available. Currently, however, his only real, natural option is Vinicius Junior but even though Zidane maybe should play the young Brazilian and put some faith in him, recent reports are suggesting there’s still a big question mark above the youngster’s head.
With that in mind, there is still one other thing Zidane can do to somehow minimise the damage and still come out on top.
What if instead of taking a risk with a young player or even worse, with an attempt to convert someone else into a wide man, Zidane simply used a different formation that doesn’t necessarily need a true left winger?
Although there was a slight deviation to a 4-1-4-1 last time out, Real Madrid traditionally play in a 4-3-3 system that utilises a centre-forward who’s flanked by two wide players. Looking at their squad right now, that would probably be Karim Benzema up front and Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard on the wings. But since Hazard is injured and there’s no one else bar Vinicius to fill that void on the left, a simple switch to 4-4-2 would potentially do the trick.
That way, Zidane can make a tandem of Benzema and Bale, since the Welshman can also play as a centre-forward when needed, or include Luka Jović, another summer signing, and pair him up with the Frenchman. Either of these options just might work and could be worth a shot.
Zidane still has enough midfielders in his squad to compensate for this shift and finding a fourth should be, in theory, easier than finding that third winger. This could also transform into a 4-2-2-2 in the attacking phase considering that likely none of those midfielders would be really comfortable going extremely wide.
But that’s not a problem since they can use Marcelo to provide width on the left, considering his attacking tendencies, and then Bale or full-back Dani Carvajal to do so on the right.