Madrid has retained its greatness regenerating. The appearance of Raúl ended in 1994 the crisis that followed the decline of the Fifth and Christian dissipated in 2009 the uncertainty that led to the departure of Raúl. The sale of Christian to Juventus last summer has opened a period of predictable instability. Whether or not the team remains in excellence depends on the emergence of a leader with an impact on the opposing area. There are no more candidates in sight than Marco Asensio, probably the most technically and physically gifted of the players that the Spanish national team has illuminated in recent years. An extraordinary attacker who bears a very serious question in relation to a character that induces him to run for many parties with less participatory than contemplative air. An analyst expresses it very close to Madrid in graphic form: "Asensio suffers from tennis referee syndrome".
The casualties of Bale, Isco, Marcelo and Ramos place Asensio, at 22, in the center of the scene. Just when the absences of some of the most decisive men of the squad accumulate, Madrid with less punching of the last decade (only 12 goals in seven League days) demands a reaction. By chance, the responsibility calls Asensio on the second day of the Champions League, in Moscow, at Luzhniki Stadium, where CSKA is waiting (9.00 pm, Movistar Champions League). Exactly where on July 1 he played his first full match with Spain, in one of the most dismal days in the history of the national team. The elimination against Russia in the second round coincided with the first start of Real Madrid in the World Cup. Much to his regret. The grinding discovered the kind of problem that prevents him from taking off at the height of his class.
Armed with virtues that empower him to destroy Croatia – current world runner-up – with two goals and three assists in his last international match, the Mallorcan tends to incur dispersions that distance him from his best competitive version. Suddenly, his mind is disconnected and begins to contemplate the plays as if he was no longer part of the fate of the game.
Absolute domain of the game … and discontinuity
More than one club technician has warned that mental aggressiveness is the decisive psychic component to succeed in modern football, where titles are not earned by making exhibitions once a month but by helping the team every day. The production of an attacker is not only counted on dribbling, goals and assists, but in activity during the matches: defensive placement, unmarking, support, support movements and a whole range of decisions and dark maneuvers that are not easily detectable for the amateur of lazy eye nor appear in the statistics books. Asensio dominates all these facets but puts them into practice in a discontinuous way and this alternation leads sometimes to disengage from the games.
The coaches have debated at length about what qualities improve with training and what qualities remain unchanged until the grave. The questions that constitute the character are difficult to modify with exercises. The challenge of Asensio is to wage an internal battle.
"We have to leave Asensio calm, put less stones in his backpack," said Sergio Ramos, a year ago, when asked about the formidable possibilities of his teammate in the club and in the national team. Then politics would reserve the boy until he matured.
"It's time to put some stone in the backpack," said Ramos two weeks ago, on the eve of the game against Roma. "It begins to have an important role and is the beginning to mark an era. I hope he continues in that line. "
The same mold as Bale
Lopetegui left him on the bench that night to put Isco in his place. Against Roma he was out of the lineup for the first time in the season. He played half an hour and left in a good mood. "Put the stones in the backpack that you want, that's why I'm here," said the Balearic player.
He has three assists and one goal (the goal of the victory against Espanyol) in seven league games, where he finished 17 times, recovered 22 balls and gave 361 passes. His acting profile moves him to a position more delayed than Bale, who has three goals (Girona, Getafe and Leganés), two assists, 26 shots, 205 passes and five recoveries. The contrast with Bale will determine its evolution since both fit into a similar mold. Both he and the coaches who know him insist that his ideal position is the one from the right to the changed leg. The position that prefers to occupy Bale.
His ideal position is that of the extreme on the right to the changed leg. Which also prefers Welsh
"We have good feelings," said Julen Lopetegui yesterday in Moscow; "We came from a very tough match in which we were clearly superior to a great team like Atlético. We show that we have resources to overcome ourselves in adverse situations. What we have to do is generate the maximum number of possible occasions throughout the season. So the goal will come. "
Lopetegui expressed himself with his usual technocratic optimism regarding the lack of punching and casualties. "The difficulties that we will encounter will be solved with the resources we have. That's what team resources are for, "he said.
Nature has endowed Marco Asensio with much more than "resources". The boy has everything to be the pillar of the Madrid of the future as long as he knows how to overcome the syndrome of the tennis referee.
His friends say that Julen Lopetegui remained in shock after Luis Rubiales dismissed him from the post of national coach on June 13, on the eve of the start of the World Cup.
Recently hired by Madrid, he packed his bags in apparent immutability and moved from Krasnodar to Moscow to return to Spain. It was full when landing at the Muscovite airport of Shermétievo. Then he came across a group of Mexican fans wearing hats with sequins. The vision reminded him that he was going in the opposite direction. The World Cup was left behind and the impression made him cry disconsolately.
"I have not thought about this these days," he said, haggard, when yesterday they asked him what he felt when he returned to Moscow. "We are one hundred percent focused on what concerns us."