Rodrygo: Wait patiently for the opportunity

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At Real Madrid, where Carlo Ancelotti is the head coach, Rodrygo Goes is suffering from one thing. This has hardly any workaround other than to wait patiently. And it is pushing the Brazilian player’s psyche into a state of mystery. 

Rodrygo is suffering at Real Madrid

At the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in late May, Rodrygo became the brightest star of the match between Sevilla and Real Madrid. The 22-year-old was lined up by Ancelotti to start as a plugged centre-forward, rather than a winger due to Karim Benzema’s injury. 

As a result, Rodrygo blazed with a brace and directly gave Los Blancos a close 2-1 win. Witnessing the 10-point performance of the student wearing the number 21 jersey, the Italian immediately showed his excitement and excitement in the post-match press conference room.  

“I think Rodrygo can play in the slot even though he has the skills to play in other positions. If you dribble in the middle, scoring will become easier than if you stick to the edge,” Ancelotti said.

“If you have a quality striker like Rodrygo, your team will have more chances to win. He appears weak when competing for high balls (only 1m74 tall), but Rodrygo is completely capable of taking on this role.”

At that time, Real Madrid was preparing to say goodbye to both number nines, Benzema and Mariano Diaz. With what he has shown, Rodrygo is one of the factors expected to be able to partly fill the huge void left by the superstar, who has now moved to Al Ittihad.

The actual spearhead position is not too strange for players born in 2001. According to Transfermarkt, Rodrygo has played this position 30 times to date, scoring 8 goals and providing 2 assists.

When the 2023–24 season officially starts, Real Madrid’s new number 11 continues to be used by Ancelotti as a striker relatively regularly. Right in the opening round on August 13, Rodrygo got off to a pretty good start with one shot against Athletic Bilbao.

However, after 10 appearances (786 minutes of play), the player valued at 100 million euros by Transfermarkt has only had 1 “shot” and 1 successful pass.

If considering only La Liga, with 31 shots taken, Rodrygo and Luis Javier Suarez of Almeria are the two players with the most shots in the entire tournament. The conversion rate of opportunities into goals of former star Santos is extremely low, only 3.35%.

Jude Bellingham, who is leading the top scorer list, has only taken 21 shots, far less than Rodrygo’s 31. It can be easily seen that the player born in 2001 is playing very ineffectively, and he does not feel comfortable at all when having to play in the spearhead position. That’s what Rodrygo admitted in a recent interview.

The fact that a player has to play against his strengths is not a new thing in football. However, Rodrygo’s mentality is clearly in a very tense state, if not a bit uncomfortable, when the Brazilian player relieved himself by publicly saying this to the press.

In the last two matches in La Liga (defeating Osasuna 4-0 in round 9 and winning 3-0 against Girona at Montilivi away field in round 8), Ancelotti did not name Rodrygo in Real Madrid’s starting lineup. Instead, the Italian strategist placed his trust in Joselu and Vinicius Junior.

Responding to Ancelotti’s trust, the duo together scored three goals and had one assist. If the performance of the three players above does not change, Rodrygo will likely have to sit on the bench more this season.

What is the cause?

In previous seasons, when Bellingham was still on the Borussia Dortmund payroll, Ancelotti mainly used a 4-3-3 formation for Real Madrid. This system has enough room for a player whose preferred position is winger, like Rodrygo.

The proof is that number 5 is leading Real Madrid’s scoring list with 10 goals and 3 assists despite only playing 10 games. Bellingham’s dazzling performance is one of the main reasons for helping the Spanish royal team show a very convincing performance.

Real Madrid is ranked first in both the La Liga table (24 points) and the Champions League (6 points). In La Liga alone, Santiago Bernabeu and Atletico Madrid (20 goals) are the two clubs with the second most goals in the whole league, only behind the number of 21 goals against the opponent of the 3rd-placed team, Barca.

Rodrygo will continue to suffer because there is no other way.

Ancelotti has admitted that Rodrygo is having difficulty in his 4-3-1-2 formation. However, the former Napoli captain was not wrong with this choice. Ancelotti was right to sacrifice the Brazilian’s natural position to prioritize Bellingham. He can only do that, but he cannot put Rodrygo above a contract worth 103 million euros.

And as long as Bellingham still shines and as long as Real Madrid still has good records, there will certainly not be any reason for Ancelotti to make changes.

The striker, born in 2001, is really in a difficult position. The only thing Rodrygo can do at this moment is to patiently endure, even though his mind is in a state of panic. Number 11 can do nothing but patiently wait for the opportunity.

So, how long will Rodrygo have to endure? Most likely, it won’t be too long because this is Ancelotti’s last season as Real Madrid head coach.

Richard Maxwell

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