Real Madrid have a major test coming up this week against Chelsea in the Champions League. After exacting revenge on the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk and PSG in the UCL this season, Los Blancos will face their toughest test yet in the current campaign, as the Blues knocked them out of the semifinals last season. And it was Thomas Tuchel’s side that won the entire tournament, defeating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in another all-Premier League final.
If Real Madrid are to defeat Chelsea and finally exorcise their Tuchel demons, then they cannot afford to make managerial blunders. Unfortunately, Carlo Ancelotti has made quite a few of those recently. One of the most egregious is continually starting Marco Asensio, and that simply cannot happen in either of the legs of the quarterfinals.
Asensio is far from the worst player in the world. He is a decently effective rotational player who can provide goals and function as a super-sub. Against defenses that lack organization, Asensio can feast, as we saw earlier this season with his hat-trick against former employers Mallorca.
But at the highest level of football, such as the Champions League, Asensio is not capable of starting. In both legs against PSG, Asensio was comfortably the worst player on the pitch. He held Real Madrid back in so many ways. Asensio offered no progression on the ball, never made himself an outlet for the midfielders to provide that progress, and did so little to support Dani Carvajal at right back that he essentially left his teammate for dead against Kylian Mbappe.
Marco Asensio will get embarrassed by Chelsea’s defense if he starts
He was a disaster. And it is no coincidence that Real Madrid went from being embarrassed by PSG when Asensio was on the pitch in the first leg and in the first half of the second leg to eventually turning the tide in the second half of the second leg with the more active Rodrygo Goes on the pitch for him.
As if that weren’t enough, Ancelotti actually went back to Asensio over Rodrygo against Celta Vigo! The No. 11 was just as horrendous, even against a weaker opponent than PSG. Asensio was anonymous, invisible, or any synonym of your choosing. He did nothing. Rodrygo? He helped Real pull out a victory, winning a penalty immediately upon joining the pitch.
Asensio may have the goals, but only fools who have no business talking about football solely look at goals. Unless a player is scoring 30+ goals in a season, they have to offer something besides scoring in order to be considered an effective player at a club like Real Madrid. Asensio is a right winger who does nothing besides score goals against defenses that are either incompetent or have given up. He is a very, very limited player.
Chelsea’s defense is anything but incompetent. Thomas Tuchel is one of the best coaches on the planet, and after defeating Guardiola head-to-head in a Champions League Final, I think he has a case for being the most tactically adept. He transformed the Blues into a fearsome team in less than a season of work, and he knows how to maximize the talents of his defenders.
So Asensio isn’t going to luck into goals against him. If anything, he is going to be exploited and embarrassed to an entirely new degree. If you thought his 0 out of 10 performance against PSG in the second leg was bad, wait until you see what Chelsea’s physical, disciplined team can do to this miscast winger.
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