Is Marcelo coming a finish during Real Madrid as Solari trusts some-more in youth?

1:30 PM ET

Santi Solari’s tact was deadly; there was something expressive in how shy he was. At a finish of a Copa del Rey clasico on Wednesday night, with a 1-1 pull environment adult a second leg, Real Madrid’s manager was asked what he finished of a approach Marcelo had played.

“Our second captain, he’s 100% Madridista; he usually thinks of Madrid. We’re operative to get a best chronicle of everyone,” Solari replied, and afterwards he stopped. Yeah, a questioner insisted, yet what about a tangible game, a compare you’ve usually played opposite Barcelona? Solari pronounced “gracias,” smiled, and that was that. Next, please.

In observant nothing, he had pronounced it all.

The game? What could he contend about a game, about a approach a Brazilian had played? Yeah, Marcelo was awful. Again. Yeah, he was targeted and taken apart. No, no, he competence as good have not been out there during all. Yeah, he does demeanour a small heavy, doesn’t he? No, we have no thought where he was on a goal, either. There wasn’t most Solari could contend yet even so it was striking, a grin honeyed yet forced. Usually there’s something a manager can add, some dull commonplace to fill a void.

It is some void, too: 1.74m (5-foot-7) and 80 kilos (176 pounds), according to a club’s figures. “Marcelo isn’t there,” Marca judged. Barcelona’s attacks tend to be filtered, around Lionel Messi and behind again, by Jordi Alba on a left; opposite Madrid, 44% of their play went by a right third. Malcom found space, and a lot of it, in a informed place: over Marcelo. He found himself mostly unfettered and means to pass freely. In 75 minutes, Barcelona’s Brazilian finished some-more dribbles than he had in a prior 453 mins put together. “Marcelo is an advantage for opponents,” Marca added.

He is something to target, for sure. Luis Garcia certified as much, yet this was not a new revelation. The then-Villarreal manager had finished a same during a start of January. “We know that Marcelo is, with Alba, a best aggressive full-back in a world,” Garcia said, “but going backwards…”

There was a impulse after a initial goal, beautifully twisted in by Santi Cazorla, when Sergio Ramos went to pronounce to Marcelo, observant something about “your side.” It was his side where they were being hurt. Casemiro was called to a puncture assembly and asked to help. Marcelo indispensable it, too.

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The subsequent day, a mistakes were collected adult and a box was finished opposite Marcelo, print by photo. He had been directly responsible, a cinema showed, for 6 goals already this season. During a revisit to Girona progressing in a season, he felt a finger of censure indicating his approach when Julen Lopetegui took him off and transposed him with Raphael Varane. Marcelo certified during a time that he “didn’t understand” a decision, yet everybody else did. Now, after Wednesday night’s game, a video finished a rounds charity some-more justification for a prosecution.

There competence have been something a small astray about it: copiousness of videos could be distributed of other players doing identical things. (Try examination Toni Kroos play in a defensive midfield purpose to that he asked never to return, for example.) But this video, shot from high in a stands, was seen as a smoking gun.

There he is, ambling back, miles behind a Barcelona conflict that led to a equaliser, usually using — too little, too late — when he finally realised that a round was about to strech Malcom. With Marcelo incompetent to get there on time, forced to watch a round strike a net, there was a sign of a line one manager used about Roberto Carlos and Michel Salgado: a full-backs who arrive in their possess area to ask what happened.

That is always a risk with aggressive full-backs. It has always been that approach with Marcelo, too, a actor whose position was always incidental. He’s not so most a full-back as usually a footballer. The futbol sala actor whose granddad took him to games in a beaten-up Beatle and whose character has never wholly changed.

Marcelo has been during Madrid for 10 years, and there have always been doubts about him. In part, those doubts are full of standard suspicions suffered by players who indeed play, who make things happen, who brave try things, who (worse still) brave to grin and suffer it, while a singular get lauded for not vouchsafing we down, for being as singular as we knew.

Some of a doubts about Marcelo were well-founded, of course. There were times when a cost-benefit research righteously concluded: Don’t play him. He once admitted: “I go, we go, we go and infrequently we forget to come back.” Speaking of forgetting, it’s mostly ignored that he was left out in Lisbon, when Fábio Coentrão started a European Cup final opposite Atletico.

That sounds foolish now; it wasn’t then. Well, “now.” It would have sounded foolish 6 months ago. Marcelo had spin appreciated, distinguished and championed. It took a prolonged time, yet there was unanimity. He’s a final male station from before a (second) Florentino Perez era, a European champion 3 years in a row, wilful en track to those successes and FIFA’s best full-back (also ESPN FC’s best left-back) even yet he’s not accurately a full-back. Marcelo is Madrid’s component of surprise, able of unlocking games and titles, too. Occasionally caught, yet always creative. He’s tighten to Zinedine Zidane, too, a manager who always believed in him and let him lead.

Now, though, things feel different. Lopetegui withdrew him in Girona as Madrid slipped into a predicament that Marcelo denied. When they scraped past Viktoria Plzen in October, with him scoring their initial idea in 8 hours of football, he insisted that “crisis” wasn’t a word spoken in a sauce room. “It’s astray to decider during this stage,” he insisted. “Wait until a finish of a season. We’ll keep operative to win. Real Madrid always come back.”

Over a past few weeks, there are signs that they have. Marcelo, though, hasn’t. And those dual contribution competence even be related.

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Marcelo looks a small heavy; it’s a blunt thing to say, yet it’s true. At a spin of a year there were suggestions that he was as most as 7 kilos (15 pounds) overweight — a trickle that did not greatfully a sauce room — and one former manager says that he was always a actor who, following injury, was slower to strech his ideal weight than others. There’s still time for that to change, yet it’s already taken too most time. And partial of attack that aim is personification matches, that Marcelo is doing less. A infamous circle, perhaps.

The stats uncover that Marcelo is going into fewer tackles than before and winning fewer, too; even easier stats uncover that he has started usually 11 joining games this season. Only dual of them have come given a spin of a year: opposite Villarreal, when he was blamed for both goals, and a 2-0 better opposite Real Sociedad. That day, he was cold after 77 minutes.

At 30 years old, it’s too early to advise that Marcelo’s decrease is definitive, or even a thing. It’s positively too early to say, as some have, that this is “The End.” But it does feel some-more poignant than simply substituting a actor who is out of shape.

There was something in Solari’s difference about recuperating a players’ best level: a best Marcelo is still, well, a best. Get there and he should get games. But if Solari has taken Madrid in a opposite direction, it’s out of Marcelo’s control. This has been about aptness and mutation as good as football, and about youth: Sergio Reguilon, Vinicius Junior and Lucas Vazquez have damaged into a initial team, with Solari observant he dignified a players for their “Spanish” qualities of “solidarity and bravery,” a same qualities he himself had represented as a player.

“Useful,” he competence have added.

On one level, during least, Solari’s also been about severe a determined sequence — in a sauce room, not a house room — and maybe there was something in his difference there, too. Could it be that a captain who “thinks usually of Madrid” is also one being speedy to give some-more and forewarned not to protest when he’s left out of a subsequent game?

He played opposite Barcelona, yet afterward, and with a astray advantage of hindsight, that felt roughly like a final concession; few now unequivocally design him to play opposite Atletico this weekend and Ajax subsequent week. Few wish him to, either, yet it won’t be as fun but him.

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