La Liga

Marco Asensio Key To Beating Bayern

 • by Sam McGuire
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Real Madrid came from behind in what was an action packed match at the Allianz Arena to take a 2-1 Champions League quarter final lead back to the Santiago Bernabéu.

Three players dominate the headlines following on from Los Blancos humbling their former manager, Carlo Ancelotti. Arturo Vidal went from hero to villain after initially putting Bayern Munich ahead before blazing a penalty over Keylor Navas‘ bar. The home side were then reduced to 10 men with Javi Martinez seeing red after picking up two yellow cards.

It was Cristiano Ronaldo who once again stole the show with a match winning double and in the process became the first player in history to score 100 goals in European competition.

READ MORE: WHY CASEMIRO IS REAL MADRID’S UNSUNG HERO

However, in the post-match chaos it appears as though Marco Asensio’s impact on the game went a little under the radar. Madrid daily Marca acknowledged the 21-year-old’s influence on proceedings but aside from that it’s Ronaldo’s achievement which has dominated the back pages.

The former Real Mallorca player entered the fray just before the hour mark with the game scoreline reading 1-1. Moments later Martinez picked up his second booking after clipping Ronaldo and that’s when the away side started to turn the screw. Asensio was key to this.

The Spaniard’s 30 minute cameo showcased why he’s one of the most highly rated talents in European football and why Zinedine Zidance turned to him ahead of the more experienced Isco and long-term Chelsea transfer target Alvaro Morata

The attacking midfielder was near faultless and completed 21 of the 23 passes he attempted. He kept play ticking over and worked an already tiring Bavarian backline. He was neat and tidy in possession and looked like your stereotypical Spanish maestro.

His involvement in the build up to the match winner can’t be overstated. He’s credited with the assist for the cross which Ronaldo converted but his movement beforehand is what created that very opportunity.

The two stills above are taken in the build up to the match winning goal for Zidane’s men. In the first picture you see Asensio, circled in white, in the space between defence and midfield. As the play progresses down the Madrid left he makes a burst into the space behind Philipp Lahm, after the German pushes wide to press Brazilian full-back Marcelo.

Sergio Ramos fails to play the pass despite seeing the run but as you can see in the second picture, Asensio’s movement stretches the Bayern defence. Former Manchester City centre-back Jerome Boateng is forced to go with the attacking midfielder and this drags him away from a central area he usually patrols. It leaves Ronaldo and Karim Benzema two vs two against David Alaba and Juan Bernat in the penalty area.

He doesn’t receive the initial pass but this doesn’t stop Asensio looking to get involved in the next phase. He drops into the space ahead of the defence yet again, and Boateng doesn’t track him. He’s able to pick the ball up, turn to face the Bayern goal and get the ball onto his wand of a left foot. He then makes the most of a disjointed defensive line to put a ball into the area which Ronaldo finishes.

It was his first assist in the Champions League having only played 155 minutes in the competition. He scored in the group stage in the 5-1 demolition of Legia Warsaw put minutes have been scarce.

It’s a similar story in La Liga. With an array of stars ahead of him he’s found it hard to muscle in on the action. He’s featured in just 678 minutes of Spanish League action, scoring three goals and adding one assist.

The lack of first-team action is why he’s being linked with a summer move away from Madrid. Liverpool are rumoured to be at the front of the queue and he was at one stage a Manchester United transfer target.

If he’s not careful he could find his career mirroring that of the Isco, a player Spurs have reportedly had their eye on for well over a year, and James Rodriguez, who has himself been linked with a move to Anfield in the summer.

Florentino Pérez is keen to land another galáctico to his squad this summer with Eden Hazard and David De Gea both being linked with moves to the Spanish capital.

There’s a risk Asensio falls victim to the club’s galáctico policy, like so many talented players before him, with the arrival of the former would directly impacting his playing minutes.

However, the fact Zidane backed him to make the difference against the German champions stands him in good stead heading into the summer. Could he be the youngster who the champions look to develop? He could save them millions in the long-run.

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