Ancelotti used the start of the season to refine his eleven. The first ten games were a testing ground, with conditioning factors such as Kroos’s injury, which gave Valverde undisputed ownership at the start. He was convinced to place Alaba in the center back, after rehearsing with him on the wing, and Vinicius’ scoring instinct made him a hole in the eleven to the detriment of Hazard. The right end remained as the only position in doubt. Bale got off the hook (and disappeared to Vila-real) after getting injured with Wales, Lucas Vázquez had to come to the aid of the defense in the face of Carvajal’s loss and, except for some sporadic appearance by Hazard, the debate remained in a pulse between Rodrygo and Asensio. The Balearic has ended up keeping the stripes…
Rodrygo still beats him in minutes, both in the total count for the season and so far this calendar year. The Brazilian played 1,351 minutes in the campaign compared to Marco’s 1,303 and in 2022 the balance is 552 to 503. But the numbers are misleading, because in recent months the Mallorcan has missed five games: the last two of 2021 due to the coronavirus and another three, already this year, due to the muscular problems he suffered in the Super Cup. Bypassing those encounters, in the last two months since the derby against Atlético (December 12) Asensio has started seven of the last eight games that he has been available. He only saw the opening kick-off from the bench in the Cup against Alcoyano, a game of opportunities for the less usual. In the first 22 games of the season, however, he had only started seven.
The serious injury he suffered in the 2019 preseason seems to be definitely behind him. Asensio is already close to the brilliant numbers of his first two seasons at Real Madrid (he scored 10 goals in 2016-17 and 11 in 2017-18) and is even on track to surpass them. He is the team’s third top scorer, with eight goals and one assist, and, on average, has a higher scoring pace than Vinicius. He needs 16 minutes less to score: the Spaniard scores a goal every 162.9 minutes and the Brazilian, every 178.7. Not only on his number, Asensio is already player number eleven of Ancelotti’s eleven.
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Asensio is 11