Another valley moment for Rodrygo with the goal | Soccer | Sports


A month ago, Carlo Ancelotti was asked about Rodrygo Goes’ improving scoring streak and the Italian tried to settle the issue by referring to a cat. “I have been taught that if you tell someone not to think about the cat, the only animal they think about is the cat,” the technician decided about the convenience of not thinking about things so that they don’t get bogged down. The Italian’s innocent comparison resonated because someone in the Valdebebas press room once again linked a Madrid attacker with a cat, like Mourinho with Benzema in 2010: “With a dog you hunt more and with a cat, less,” he then said. about French. Unlike this one, however, that reference – so remembered later – concentrated all the Portuguese’s sharp spirit that was not guessed this time in the words of Carletto, who a year ago elevated the Brazilian to the status of starter and who this year has used in all the meetings.

Rodrygo faces his second scoring slowdown of the season. After accumulating 11 dry matches at the beginning and then having two very fertile months, he has now played 15 matches with just three goals of a lesser weight: since the second goal he scored against Villarreal in mid-December, the attacker has only celebrated the third in Arandina in stoppage time, the final 4-1 to Barcelona in the Super Cup final and the last of the rout of Girona (4-0).

It is the gusty life in front of the rival goal of the Brazilian, protagonist of flashes of epic on the way to the fourteenth Champions League, and capable of going from drought to eruption and, again, stopping. To come and go without prior notice. After the internal “anger” over a unsuccessful start to the campaign – as he admitted in a recent interview in this newspaper – he came to a boil in the autumn (he managed to score seven goals in 11 shots on goal in five consecutive games) and is now going through another valley moment 23-year-old Rodrygo’s discontinuous nature of scoring continues to prevail. Even when last season he reached his peak (19; he has 13 this year), he suffered a four-month break in the League.

“His moment is good because of what he contributes to the team in the game and because of his commitment. He is a little less successful in finishing, but this has already happened and if it has not worried us before, it will not worry us now,” Ancelotti, always protective, analyzed this Tuesday in the preview of the second leg of the Champions League round of 16. against Leipzig (9:00 p.m., Movistar), with a 0-1 advantage thanks to a great goal from Brahim, their great threat now to maintain their hierarchy. Last Saturday, in Valencia, Ancelotti replaced him for the Malaga player with half an hour left and in a moment of need.

In those around the São Paulo player, they do not notice any special nervousness in recent weeks due to the scoring records of 2024. “He knows how to control these moments,” they point out about a player who, they add, has always tried to transmit calm among his close people, to the one who has explained to them that she has been carrying the responsibility since she was 11 years old.

In this stretch of the season with only three goals to close comfortable results, it is also striking that he has not been very close to the goal. It has not been, in reality, a problem of aim, but of distance from the most frank situations. Opta’s metric indicates that the number of goals expected from him does not even reach four (3.86). A scenario that contrasts with the drought at the beginning of the campaign. He then added 11 matches without scoring, but advanced statistics indicated that, due to the quality of the chances enjoyed, he should have scored five goals. Not now. The difference between what was celebrated and what he could have achieved is little.

Meanwhile, Brahim and Joselu have continued to collect numbers in the waiting room with a smaller volume of minutes. In these two and a half months, the Andalusian has scored four goals with six shots on goal and the center forward, six in 10 attempts.

Between the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, Madrid has consolidated leadership in the League, won the Super Cup and taken advantage in the Champions League (fell in the Cup), but it has done so, almost always, with close results, finding a group of solvers among which the Brazilian has not been. Lucas Vázquez decided in Vitoria, Rüdiger did it against Mallorca, Vinicius ventilated Barcelona in the Super Cup and Girona, Tchouameni completed the comeback in Las Palmas, Joselu won in Getafe, Brahim stood out in Leipzig and Modric broke out against Sevilla.

Rodrygo is looking to remove the plug again, like between October and December. Then, in many duels he occupied his natural position, the left, due to Vinicius’ injury. There he played for Santos until a year before signing for Madrid, when the white club asked him to start getting used to the right because the left foot belonged to Hazard and Vini at that time. Although, as Ancelotti pointed out in the player’s best moment, last December, the position matters little if one flows. “When he is good, he scores from the center, from the left or from the right,” said the coach. This season, due to the change of drawing after the departure of Benzema, he starts on the right but can occupy more of the center.

With a contract until 2028, the Brazilian faces key months to vindicate his strength in a forward that could have a very different landscape in the summer if the Mbappé operation comes to fruition. He returns to the Champions League, his fetish territory.

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