The unique idiosyncrasy of understanding Atalanta football and the absence of attacking players (Benzema-Hazard) forced Zidane to look for occasional antidotes for the Bergamo match.
It was about not being locked in with the advanced pressure of the opponent, to counteract their individual markings and, at a certain moment, take advantage of their tactical disorganization, in which they always incur in certain moments of the matches, to achieve the longed-for goal away from home. with which all teams dream in the Champions League.
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Shovels of passes with Isco of false nine
For this reason he decided to play without a reference nine, an exceptional situation for the coach.
He placed Isco as a false offensive reference and invited the rest of the teammates the space left by the Malaga player with his constant mobility.
One of those chosen to dynamite Atalanta was Mendy.
Since the shock started, the Frenchman moved through less common positions.
More advanced, more through the interior corridors than the band, with fewer defensive obligations.
He went up and stayed in forward positions.
What does Mendy do as a center forward?
The commentators wondered.
He did not retreat immediately to his lateral demarcation.
The 17-minute play that caused Freuler to be sent off was the result of that peculiar role of the Frenchman.
The foul was made to him and exactly in the area through which he moved throughout the 90 minutes, as accurately reflected by the heat map of his movements.
Mendy had a free bar from his coach to improvise, but above all he had to attack the natural spaces of the non-existent center forward and in that area he was seen frequently, participating more than ever in the team's collective game and, also, with some creativity.
That he also scored the winning goal from that area was already more of a coincidence.
Zidane confessed that the action of the short corner between Kroos and Modric was rehearsed, but that the finisher from the edge of the area did not have to be his compatriot.
And less with the right leg, the same with which he had already scored against Getafe.
So that Mendy could deploy that versatile offensive role, the coach placed a luxury bodyguard on him: Toni Kroos.
If the German has already bought a 20-square-meter folding pitch in all the stadiums where he plays and from there masterfully handles the pieces of his team, this time his positioning was much more contained.
He had to cover Mendy's area and keep an eye on the side Maehle.
Since Sergio Ramos has been out of the left-handed center-back position, Kroos' group hierarchy has grown exponentially.
The German has found his own space.
A square split by the dividing line of the midfield.
Ten meters forward, ten meters back, 20 in.
From there he directs the maneuvers.
He helps in getting the ball out of the left lane and distributes the attack game with his inside passes or changes of orientation.
All very simple.
One or two touches.
In short and long.
He no longer goes out to pressure the opposite area as before and when he arrives he does it in a choral way with the rest of his teammates to, if he has the chance, take out his right leg in a medium distance shot.
The anti-Atalanta tactic ended up going well for Zidane, but evidently the game did not go as he had planned, except for everything related to Mendy.
A multipurpose player of only 25 years old, at an age to improve concentration lapses and become if he continues to progress into a Marcelo with more defensive constancy.