Analyzing Real Madrid’s defensive organization

Real Madrid is full of doubts, as they face offensive powerhouse PSG. With the BBC back, Isco and the 442 seem to be putted aside by Zidane, and French coach should rather go 4-1-4-1. Madrid’s defensive balance has often been precarious in this organisation.


Ramos’ joy, as he qualifies Madrid in Napoli after a difficult night for Los Blancos

Double crowned European Champions Real Madrid has often brushed the abyss, on the way to this historical achievement. In Naples, when Mertens hit the post at 2-3 aggregate. In Munich when Vidal sends his penalty in the stars, as the score was 1-0 in the first half of the first tie. Even in the 2016 final, Madrid didn’t resist Atletico’s positional play, as they conceded a penalty by Pepe, then a goal by Carrasco on open play.

It’s Madrid’s DNA: With so much creative talent on the pitch, defensive balance si often precarious.

Middle-High Block : Responsible center backs / questionable alignment

When Madrid lines up in 4141 with the BBC, it’s rare to see them very high and aggressive when the opposition play out from the back. Whether in Naples or in Munich during last year campaign, Madridistas have let opposition create conditions for numerical superiority on the first pass.

Against Valencia, Kroos was defending a bit higher than Modric to help Benzema handle Parejo and the center backs. It was also the case against Napoli’s 4-3-3 last year, with Modric being closer to Hamsik, preventing him from facing the play. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kroos using the same aggressiveness against Verratti.

Against Bayern, danger would come from both sides. Madrid played deeper; Benzema was standing in front of a passive Los Blancos block against Xabi Alonso and the two CBs.

Ramos follows Muller as he drops back. This movement destroys Madrid’s alignment, as Javi Martinez can play forward. On the wing, Robben enjoys a 1v1 situation with Marcelo, who is playing offside trap on the edge.

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Parejo is free as he faces the play. Rodrigo drops back, Varane comes out to mark him. The alignment is affected by the Frenchman’s move. Nacho and Carvajal have to control the depth without a numerical superiority

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Can PSG use their quality, width and depth to make the most of Madrid’s defensive issues, mostly alignment ?

When Varane or Ramos go up, alignment is naturally affected. Fullback’s horizontal compactness becomes a core issue for Real Madrid. With a center backs going up on opposition’s player between the lines, they are the ones supposed to drop back to control the depth, almost as “libero-fullbacks”.

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Zidane, during the 2016 half time in Milan: (him = Griezmann). (from the documentary « In the heart of la Undecima » – Real Madrid TV)

This compactness was obvious during the second leg in Napoli. Moreover, it’s a mistake by Carvajal (attracted on the wing by Ghoulam) who offers Mertens the possibility to be in front in San Paulo, as Casemiro uncovered the Belgium man.


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By: Victor Lefaucheux