Match Report

Did Real Madrid play “Positional Play”?[Real Madrid v Frankfurt 22-23 UEFA Super Cup]

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Positional play, which has flourished by Pep Guardiola and FC Barcelona, looks like completely opposite style of Real Madrid who possess lots of various talented players from all around the world. Their traditional style is attacking and defending in each part of the pitch with individual or small group of players and winning each battle thanks to their skill which is the best in the world. But it’s interesting to think if they can work as a team with maximising their talent. In this Super Cup against the Europe League winner Frankfurt, their movements in possession looked like positional play but is this right? Let’s move on the analysis of the game and discuss about this question.

Frankfurt’s Solid 5-4-1

To be fair, Frankfurt was really organised team and defended against the Champions League winner well. Their 5-4-1 block in midfield was compact enough to prevent Madrid from playing though and force them to play wide.

Sometimes the left midfielder Kamada tried to press on the centre back and they pushed up the line but didn’t continue applying pressure anymore so it was easy for Madrid to progress the ball to the midfield of the pitch. However, Frankfurt closed the gap between midfield players and both centre backs or Kroos were able to play only wide, where Frankfurt players marked each player and pressed on the ball.

Then, it is possible to say that Madrid was not good enough to break down the compact block even if they played in the way of positional play. However, Madrid had the most effective combination to play in behind and it was enough to win the game.

The Most Dangerous Combination

Vinícius Júnior and Benzema on the left flank were just unstoppable. Vini Jr. often stayed by the touch line and kept the width while Benzema was given the freedom to move across the pitch. As soon as Vini Jr. received the ball, Benzema came close to him and gave option to play one-two and Vini Jr. ran in behind the opposition defenders, then it was over.

Probably, except counterattacks or set pieces, Madrid could create chances only by this combination between the Brazilian winger and French striker. But this was the most effective way to play in behind against the opposition compact block which forced Madrid to play wide.

Real Madrid with Positional Play

Then, this is the main topic of this article. Did Ream Madrid play in positional play? I will answer “50%” to this question. Of course, the definition of positional play is various and the idea is vague. Therefore, they played in positional play in some aspects but they didn’t in other aspects. In fact, they looked moving freely but there is a rule.

Firstly, Kroos is the trigger for other players to change positions. He often dropped deep to help build up as Casemiro is not good at playing a pivot. However, as Kroos moved, there was a space in the left pocket. Then, the striker Benzema came to this space to receive a split pass or help Vini Jr. and Modrić stepped up to the space where Benzema vacated. This suggests that they didn’t move individually but also collectively. Additionally, this time Kroos was the trigger but Modrić could create another rotation.

As Modrić Left the space in the right pocket, the right winger Valverde or Benzema came there or even Casemiro could step up to fill each position. This kind of variation of rotation makes it difficult to understand Real Madrid attacking and looks like individuals are moving freely. However, they maintained the shape while changing positions, which is one of the definitions of positional play.

However, positional play often referred to using the advantage of being in a right position. In this aspect, they didn’t think it is important because they can manage the situation by their individual skill without the advantage of the position. Therefore, it is difficult to say Real Madrid is playing in positional play. I’m really excited to see them and want to know if they are playing in positional play or just doing what they have done so far. Thank you for reading.