Unsung Hero Marcelo Is More Important to Real Madrid Than Many Think
Watching a player dribble at full speed is a sight to behold. It's one of the reasons we love watching the game of football and why the most revered players on the planet are the technical ones, and as result often the South American ones.
There is much to admire about a player that combines the qualities of tireless effort, imagination, creativity and sheer enjoyment for the sport.
In modern day football, tactically more than ever attacking full-backs can be key to a team's set-up. In previous years, the defenders' job was to protect the goal at all costs, putting their bodies on the line to stop the opposition and keep a clean sheet.
Now the game is based on passing and movement; who can score the most with defending now a dying art.
Currently, Real Madrid are the driving force in world football, the current domestic champions and the first ever back-to-back winners of the revamped Champions League. They are the unstoppable force and the immovable object, who are sweeping all before them in every competition.
This is in essence down to the work of Zinedine Zidane and huge stars like Cristiano Ronaldo. Nevertheless, one of the key components in the team and often one of the first names on the team sheet rarely gets the plaudits he deserves.
Marcelo arrived to the sunny Spanish capital in 2007 and over his 10 years at the Santiago Bernabéu has had his difficulties like all professionals. Seen as the natural heir to Roberto Carlos because of his nationality and ability on the ball, the comparisons were natural. To begin with, he was often overlooked and ill-used under various managers for more defensive-minded individuals like Gabriel Heinze.
There was even murmurs in the Spanish press of the Brazilian full-back being sold as the fans and the people in power for Los Blancos deemed him a liability; weak in the air, often caught out of position and more content with the ball at his feet then defending the goal.
Fast forward to today and Marcelo at the age of 29 is entering the prime of his career, still a force attacking the opposition at will with those marauding runs but also diligent at the back, cutting out opportunities and remaining calm in possession. His presence in the team is key to the all-out attack that French manager Zidane appreciates.
With compatriot Casemiro screening the back four excellently the past two seasons, even filling in as a third defender in games when needed, this has allowed the likes of Marcelo and right-back Dani Carvajal to bomb on past the midfielders into the final third without the pressure of being caught out defensively.
The beauty of Marcelo's game is his technique with a ball at his feet, for a defender there has never been a more skillful player as it often gets the former Fluminense star out of trouble. His first touch gives him the time to make the correct decision, which he usually does, while his passing ability and knack of playing in confined spaces, which is often the Brazilian way, makes him a key component in the side.
His patience to break into the first team and loyalty to the cause has made him a favorite among the loyal Madridistas. His talent and love for the game meant he was adored by his teammates in the dressing room and his unusual ability to cut through the defense instead of around it like a typical left-back has made him the greatest in the world today.
When the diminutive Samba star arrived as a 19-year-old, he came with promise and hope that he could be a Real Madrid great like his idol Carlos. Ten years later, he has won the most games ever out of any foreign player at the club, collected 17 trophies and is proving each day why his persistence paid off.