Real Madrid are in charge of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Ajax having won the first leg 2-1 away from home, but recent losses to Barcelona will have dented their confidence and could leave them vulnerable against the Dutch side.
Santiago Solari will have his work cut out to ensure the team which has won this competition for three years running doesn’t suffer a shock exit in front of its home fans.
Here’s a closer look at the tactics Solari could try as he looks to coax a better result from this Madrid side and seal a quarter-final berth. Check out our Ajax tactics piece here.
SOLARI CAN GO BOLD WITH FORMATION CHANGE
Solari hasn’t quite shown his tactical acumen during his time as Los Blancos boss, as he’s played it safe and stuck to tried-and-tested formations – the 4-3-3 mixed with the occasional 4-2-3-1.
But after two losses to Barcelona in four days, perhaps Solari has started to wonder if he should be doing anything different.
A radical option would be to switch to three at the back, drafting in young centre-back Javi Sanchez to play alongside Nacho, who will deputise for the suspended Sergio Ramos, and Raphael Varane.
That may be a step too far for Solari but what he could consider is a midfield diamond. Casemiro will be at the base, with Kroos and Modric the middle two.
And there is, of course, one player perfectly suited to the role at the tip of the diamond: Isco. The Spaniard made a surprise appearance off the bench on Saturday and perhaps Solari believes it’s finally time to give the playmaker a chance.
ASENSIO CAN EARN RIGHT WING SPOT
Vinicius Junior has made himself a first-choice player under Solari, with his displays so far in a Los Blancos shirt enough to become an automatic starter. But his emergence has created a problem for Marco Asensio, who also prefers playing on the left wing, a berth that Vinicius has made his own.
But perhaps it is time for Solari and Asensio both to look to a different position for the young Spaniard. Gareth Bale is likely to be dropped after his poor showing in El Clasico on Saturday, leaving the right winger’s spot open. Asensio has played on the left far more often than on the right, but in this era of inverted wingers, one wonders why that is the case.
Bale’s middling form means Asensio has the opportunity to make the right-sided attacking role his own, and thus force himself back into the first XI. That should begin with Tuesday’s fixture.
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