The 3 Most Under-Appreciated Players From 2019-2020
Real Madrid fans appreciate their players appropriately, but not everyone gets the same plaudits as the superstars. At Real Madrid, it’s easy to get overshadowed by superstars like Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema. Those two top goal-scorers did plenty of heavy lifting, especially upon La Liga’s return, to lead Los Blancos to a 34th league title. But they weren’t the only players instrumental in the title-winning season. The 3 Most Under-Appreciated Players From 2019-2020
Here are three Real Madrid players who go under-appreciated, particularly when looking at the recognition they receive outside the fanbase.
CB Raphael Varane
At first, I didn’t want to pick Raphael Varane, because he is arguably the best center back in the world. But there are so many Teams of the Season that have omitted Varane, including the official UEFA.com Team of the Season for La Liga.
Sergio Ramos had the goals and was crucial to Real’s success, but those goals overshadowed Varane, who was truly the best defender for Real. His reading of the game, anticipation, and ability to stymie any talented forward’s runs helped Los Blancos maintain the league’s best defense with just 25 goals allowed.
Varane has been the best center back in the world in 2020 when looking at his ability to track runs and clear danger. He’s so good at playing the ball out of the back in tight space with his technical quality as a passer and dribbler. It’s a shame that he still doesn’t get his due.
CM Luka Modric
In 2018, Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or. In 2019, fans of European football began to wonder if the Croatian legend’s best days were behind him. And in 2020, Modric has shown that he remains one of the world’s best center midfielders, producing world-class performances on a weekly basis.
You’d think a 34-year-old center midfielder who primarily plays a ball-carrying role and has to work hard on defense would tire greatly in the heat with two games played every week. But Modric shows that age is just a meaningless statistic for some special players, as he produced his absolute best performances of the season to close the 2019-2020 La Liga campaign.
Modric played a crucial role in Real Madrid sealing the title, but because he doesn’t pile up statistics, you won’t see him in Teams of the Season. And I’m not arguing that he should be in them, like I am with Raphael Varane.
But I am saying that Modric is one of those players who gets overlooked now. He’s become a veteran glue guy, squaring up for others and being an engine who plays a lot of defense. I mean, that’s who Modric has always been, but he’s playing an even more subdued role in midfield to help the younger guys shine.
If you want to watch a masterclass, go watch what Modric did to Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. Or what he did to Alaves, Granada, and Villarreal. The man had four straight top-class displays to finsih the title-winning campaign.
I could go with another star player who doesn’t get listed in enough Teams of the Season like Ferland Mendy, but it’s more interesting to reserve the final slot for a backup player on Real Madrid who does his job whenever asked.
Having a player like Nacho Fernandez in the squad can make a huge difference in a grueling season when injuries mount. Nacho made one appearance in the Champions League and six in La Liga, helping the team in the Fall when the fullback positions were hurt by injuries and suspensions.
An experienced defensive player who can play at any of the positions in the back four effectively, Nacho helped make sure Real’s league-best defense didn’t miss a beat. He started in clean sheets against Osasuna, Atletico Madrid, and Real Valladolid.
Per WhoScored.com, Nacho averaged 1.8 tackles per game and 2.0 interceptions per game, and those are incredible numbers for a player who spent most of his time at left and right back. Nacho completed over 86 percent of his passes and won 2.7 aerial duels per game with 2.5 clearances per game. He didn’t offer much offensively, but he more than made an impact on defense when his team needed it.