Real Madrid – AS Roma: Real revisits midfield diamond to outclass Roma (3-0)

Real Madrid goes back to Zidane-esque tactics to outclass a confused AS Roma. Real achieved an overwhelming 3-0 victory through great moments in both possession and counter-attacking play.

The ambitious Julen Lopetegui wants his Real Madrid side to impose a dominant possession game week in, week out, against any rival. An objective that requires a tremendous degree of technical ability that is seemingly at odds with the more physical skill-set of midfielder Casemiro.

While the Brazilian might be expendable against weaker opponents in La Liga, overcoming tough opponents in the Champions League will often require his defensive contribution. As such, Lopetegui has spent much of this early season thinking about how to create a collective structure in which the terms Casemiro and dominant possession game are not mutually exclusive.

Although Real Madrid has obtained excellent early league results when starting Casemiro - 4-1 scores against Leganés and Girona - from a tactical point of view, his integration still seemed like a work in progress, with the team’s possession game being less fluid than desired. However, with Casemiro once against starting against Roma, Real Madrid enjoyed some of their best moments in possession in this early season.

Interestingly enough, the key tactical solution that allowed for this excellent collective performance is one that harks back to the tactics of their former coach, Zinedine Zidane. On paper, Real Madrid lined up with their usual 4-3-3, featuring Casemiro, Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos as the central midfielders, and Isco Alarcón as the nominal left winger. In practice, however, Isco often played in a deeper, more central position, one that reminds us more of the Isco seen in Zidane’s 4-3-1-2 midfield diamond.

Real Madrid . . .

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Jose Perez (27) writes and talks about anything football-related: players, tactics, analytics, the relationship between football and society. Whenever he is not working on high-power lasers, he tries to keep up with all big five European leagues, but focuses particularly on La Liga. Outside of Between the Posts, you can find him arguing with people and posting analyses on Twitter or answering questions on Quora. [ View all posts ]

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