While Bergamo's bell towers were ringing in the background, surrounded by his footballers on the stadium grass, Zinedine Zidane displayed his idea of the next day's game against Atalanta: “We are doing well as a team. Also defending, because it is the most important thing. It will be important to be as a team and defend, because then the ball will enter, ”he told them. In this Real Madrid in which the forward does not finish adjusting the sight and Casemiro is the second highest scorer, the goal has become an event that, more than by game, appears by decantation.
If they hold out long enough, “it will enter the ball ”, sometimes in outcomes that are far from what Zidane himself imagined, even if he has arranged the conditions. A little imagination and a little chaos. As in the goal of Ferland Mendy, 25, on the stage of the talk of the bell towers. "The one who had to shoot was not Mendy," said the coach about a play that did not develop as on the board but that reached the same point imagined by Bettoni, Zidane's second and ideologue of the set piece. PP Zidane: "The one who I had to shoot it wasn't Mendy ” The multipurpose Mendy and the plot of Kroos
O like the 1-0 against Getafe at the Di Stéfano, which Benzema scored in the 60th minute when heading an assist from Vinicius from the right. At that point, according to Zidane's plans, the Brazilian shouldn't be there either. Five minutes earlier, Chendo had told the fourth official to light the 20 on his scoreboard to replace him, but then Marvin warned that his hamstrings were touched and he was the one who came out. Vinicius stayed, but parked in a strange place, as a right lane. So strange that in the final half hour, in addition to attendance, the Brazilian gave Courtois two passes, something unusual: in his almost 100 previous games with Madrid, according to Opta's records, he had only given him another, on 21 last June in Anoeta.
Although the most striking appearance in this scenario of a scoring shortage and personnel exacerbated by Benzema's injury is that of Mendy , who had been governed by medical forecasts, not only would not have finished the rehearsed play, it would not even have been in the field. The full-back recounted his incident at the age of 14 to the UEFA media on the eve of the game against Atalanta: “I had arthritis in my hip and suffered an infection, so I had to undergo surgery and spent a lot of time in hospital, in a cast two or three months. When they operated on me, the doctor came to see me and told me that football was over for me, he even talked about an amputation ”. But he got up from the wheelchair, learned to walk again and, despite some youth slip that was about to derail him, he arrived at Madrid .
He took advantage of his second and third opportunities, and now he takes advantage of trends that several technicians discussed to appease him in his youth to wake up these days sleepy parties. That dressage process was recalled a couple of years ago in an interview by Johann Louvel, who directed him in Le Havre: "Most of the work was to channel him tactically towards his position, because he went everywhere."
That kind of deviation from his 18 years has become this month one of the surprise weapons of Real Madrid. On February 9 he threw himself on his back to finish Getafe 2-0 with his right; the 20 in Valladolid cut in the area and also marked, although the VAR annulled it; and on Wednesday he gave the victory against Atalanta with his first goal in the Champions League . In two seasons at Olympique de Lyon he scored three goals
What he already showed there was his daring with dribbling: he added 102 in two years, the most in Ligue 1 and one of the five most daring defenders in the major leagues European. In Bergamo he did not attempt any, but caused the expulsion of Freuler in one of his forays. In this time of lean cows, Mendy increasingly ventures into the attack pushed by the coach. "He does nothing that Zidane does not tell him," say Valdebebas sources. The assaults from the defense enter into the general plan of the coach, as Nacho explained: "The coach wants me to do it in all the games, it is a way of opening spaces."
After a more prudent first season, in this second the team's needs and their own confidence contribute to a certain riot that rescues that spicy youth. Under the tutelage of Varane, also an occasional translator, Mendy is progressing in the study of Spanish and in adjusting to his place in the club, now ahead of the historic Marcelo. In Valdebebas, they see him comfortable: “He is aware of the sparks that his signing has generated, and even more his ownership, but he takes it very well. He is not scared, but he is not brave ”. Although yes to the attack.