San Mamés boosts Haaland

Real Madrid’s cup defeat in San Mamés against Athletic (1-0) separates it from the KO tournament in the quarterfinals, one title option remains for this 2021-22 academic year and, above all, it clearly shows where Carlo Ancelotti sees the main lack of the team: at the top of the attack. That tip is owned by Benzema, a striker who moves all over the field and that in recent seasons has added to its catalog an important predatory instinct, sharpened this course: he has 24 goals in 28 games.

But Benzema was not at San Mamés, suffering from a muscle micro-tear that implied excessive risk, with the visit to PSG just around the corner (February 15), and Ancelotti showed that he does not trust the other options offered template in that position. Jovic was a substitute and didn’t even warm up, Mariano is injured once again, and the coach preferred to line up Asensio as a false nine and Isco in that same position when the Balearic Islands ran out. Madrid’s game in attack was dismal, with just three shots, two of them on goal.

For the coming course, Ancelotti already knows that, if there is no setback that prevents him, he will be able to count on Mbappé in his attack. The Frenchman will arrive at no transfer cost after the end of his contract with PSG; at that moment the problem will come for Ancelotti, blessed problem, to fit Mbappé and Vinicius in the same eleven, starting both as a preferred option from the left. But neither is the Frenchman a pure nine, something that Carletto seems to miss. A striker like Haaland.

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In his numerous public appearances, the Italian has mentioned the absence of a pure finisher profile in the squad: “The characteristics of the strikers we have are strikers who are not small-area…”. And at the time, asked what player he would be reincarnated as today, Carletto mentioned two players on his team and one who is on the market: “No midfielder, I would like to be a striker. Vinicius, Benzema, Haaland… Someone who scores a lot of goals, what I lacked in my career were goals”.

“Children have to fulfill their dreams”

Ancelotti knows that with a forward like the Norwegian, powerful to play on the counterattack and with a lot of presence (194 centimeters) to act statically inside the area, Madrid would win a lot of points in close matches, in which it is difficult for him to generate clear chances. That happened against Cádiz (0-0), Elche (2-2), Osasuna (0-0) at the Bernabéu; also at Getafe’s (1-0). In all those games he had the ball massively, but did not find cracks through which to sneak into the rival defense.

When asked about the options that both Mbappé and Haaland play under him next season, in a completely remodeled Santiago Bernabéu stadium, the Italian prefers to respect the situation of the two, in teams other than Madrid at the moment, but leaving the half-closed door: “The one who I hope is here is me, as a coach. Of course they would like to play in this new stadium, but I don’t know what the players will do. Children have to chase whatever dreams they have. I had the dream of playing in Serie A and I fulfilled it.”

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