When the Real Madrid team sheet was published before last week’s season-defining Clasico clash against Barcelona there was a notable surprise name included. It had been assumed that Zinedine Zidane would start Ferland Mendy against the Catalans with the French left back rested for a number of matches beforehand.
However, it was Marcelo who was picked to play at left back, raising some eyebrows. The Brazilian hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons, with many predicting that he will leave the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the campaign. A move to Serie A has been mooted and with Mendy now seen as Real Madrid’s first choice left back there was little to keep him in the Spanish capital.
Against Barca, though, Marcelo was exceptional. He provided Real Madrid with an outlet throughout and was crucial in securing a 2-0 win that saw Zidane’s men return to the top of La Liga. After a run of poor results it was critical that Los Blancos got back to winning ways and re-established their advantage over their fiercest rivals and title challengers.
Of course, one impressive display, even one in a Clasico against an opponent of Barcelona’s calibre, doesn’t necessarily mean that Marcelo has a long term future at Real Madrid. Mendy still looks to be Zidane’s first choice in the position and at 24 years old the Frenchman will continue to get better and better as he gains maturity.
Zidane has recently stood up for Marcelo in the face of mounting criticism, making an argument in favour of one of Real Madrid’s most decorated players. “It’s upsetting because he gives his all when he plays – not just Marcelo, all the players do – but this isn’t going to change. I can say it’s upsetting, it’s not good because they go out there and play to their maximum. The fans who were there saw that.”
In the immediate term, Marcelo still has something offer. He remains an attacking force and still has the trust of his Real Madrid teammates. That was evident in his display against Barcelona and with the fixtures coming thick and fast Zidane will need to use his full squad between now and the end of the season. Marcelo will be called upon again before too long and having impressed against Barca that might now not seem like such a risk.
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