Minute 33! One of Real Madrid’s most in form players in Marcelo succumbs to an injury and is replaced by the team’s ever present utility man Nacho Fernandez. And two minutes later, he pays off the substitution with a goal, smashing past PSG custodian Kevin Trapp from a deflected Toni Kroos’ shot out wide.
Such has been his contribution for Real Madrid over the years. He hasn’t been a regular starter for the side but in the minimal game time he gets, he has done enough to please the manager either way. It’s true that he has struggled against the best of attacks in the past but this season he has held his nerves, has looked confident and clean whenever he has faced some top quality attacks.
Recent example is the game against PSG. Despite being brought up as a sub against one of the best attacks in the world which includes the world class trio of Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Nacho had made his presence felt with an unexpected and unintentional goal. Later dropping back more often for his defensive duties. He won’t have the same qualities as Marcelo but can be as effective as him if played. He’s a versatile defender in the ranks. Naturally a CB who can play at both wings at the back, so this position isn’t really new for him, having been a regular left back for Real’s reserve ‘Castilla’ side. Having more senior and experienced players at the back, he is a much suitable back up in defence for Real.
A slight drawback falls into this case. Given his utility play, he has been a backup for most of his career so far. As managers prefer to play a player who’s a specialist in a specific position, Nacho’s versatility kind of falls short. In the recent past Real Madrid hasn’t had much of academy prowess credits to its ‘Galacticos’ policy where the big name players dominate the squad strength. Nacho’s credibility falls short in this case as well.
But considering coach Rafael Benitez’ love for Spanish talents, this can be a golden opportunity for Nacho himself to make a strong name in the squad. Real’s persistent injury crisis has already made him play often but this is an opportunity in another place. Coach Rafa is already famous for polishing Spanish talents like Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Jose Callejon, and so many others. And the ‘Canteranos’ in the squad are already good enough to feature in the first team, Nacho can also be a regular provided if he can be consistent and improves more and more through the course of the season.
So this is indeed a golden ticket to the first team for Nacho Fernandez Iglesias, a player who would play anywhere the coach asks him to. And with more and more games to approach, he would work even more harder try getting a regular slot in the first team. So is it really Nacho’s time to shine? Only time will tell……