If someone asked who Lucas Vazquez was four or five years ago, many football fans would have no idea who the Spaniard was.
Now after spending some time away with the Espanyol first-team, the once Real Madrid Castilla member has finally become a regular for the first team and has proven himself as a player who can routinely change the dynamic of a game.
However, between a change in management and also being teammates with some of the best players in the world, Vazquez has once again found himself lingering in the background at Real Madrid during a time of crisis at the club.
Under the management of former head coach Zinedine Zidane, Vazquez was given the opportunity to prove he deserved a starting position when he routinely filled in for an injured Gareth Bale.
Accompanied by Zidane’s trust, Vazquez was able to take his talents and develop them alongside serving as a player who could make a massive impact on matches when the head coach needed him to.
As a player, Vazquez has the ability to tightly work the right flank, find open passing lanes and quickly move in behind defenders to provide assists for his teammates lurking in and around the box.
He works well with Dani Carvajal, Marco Asensio, Luka Modric, Isco Alarcon (as well as former partner Cristiano Ronaldo) and certainly proved to be Zidane’s go-to man to help change Real Madrid’s attacking dynamics when Bale was gone.
In the domestic league, he played in 29 games, scored 4 goals and had 7 assists while maintaining a shot accuracy of 74 per cent and a pass accuracy of 86 per cent. All staggering stats for a player who formerly warmed the bench.
Vazquez was also extremely influential in the Champions League and proved to be a forward-thinking player when he positioned himself right in front of the Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon to then be famously fouled in the dying moments of the match.
With the switch in management from Zidane to Julen Lopetegui, Vazquez now finds himself back on the bench and only playing a few minutes each game totalling 192 out of a possible 810.
At the beginning of the season, Lopetegui announced that he had a lot of trust in the talents of Bale and has chosen the Welshman over the Spaniard for most of the Madrid’s matches.
Specifically, if Vazquez is named to the bench, he ends up being called onto the pitch as a substitute for Gareth Bale 50 per cent of the time.
Only playing the last 15/10 minutes of a match does not allow the Spaniard to be the liberator that he once was underneath Zidane and not only limits the talents of the player but the overall result for the team.
It was not until Real’s recent LaLiga game against Levante, which ended in an agonising 1-2 loss, that Vazquez grabbed his first start of the season nine matches into the 2018/19 season.
It was believed that Lopetegui was trying to allow more creative players to work up front and Vazquez managed the right flank alongside Luka Modric and Isco Alarcon in the midfield and Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz up top.
In the first half of this game, Vazquez had around four or five shots that unluckily did not hit the back of the net but were, in fact, some of the most enticing chances of the match.
From only starting one game, Vazquez immediately showed how he could be a pivotal player for Real Madrid when given the opportunity to play a full 90 minutes rather than sitting as Bale’s substitute.
Bale vs. Vazquez
Despite the choices of the different coaches, when looking at the statistics of Vazquez and Bale they are fairly similar but each have their specific benefits for Real Madrid.
Again, due to the injury that Bale experienced, Vazquez was given slightly more time on the pitch than his teammate last season but was able to use it to his advantage to demonstrate his talents.
In regards to passing, the statistics are very close but the Spaniard edges the Welshman by four per cent and has a better ability to find where passes should be placed in order to score goals.
As for creating individual chances, Bale has scored 11 times compared to Vazquez’s four but the latter has created seven assists compared to his teammates two.
While Bale also managed to have more shots on goal, Vazquez was the one to sport a better shot accuracy rate.
As a result, both players are extremely attack-oriented alongside the right wing but their statistics show their styles are in fact very different: Bale working more on his own and Vazquez more with the team.
Since the start of the season, Real Madrid’s first team has been way below the high standards they are usually affiliated with.
Between the departure of Zinedine Zidane, going without a goal for the longest time in their history and losing their top goal scorer, Lopetegui has a to try and put Real Madrid back on the path to victory.
While the team is full of talented players, Vazquez is one that has the ability to change the dynamic of a game and proved so while working with Zidane and even while playing against Levante but he will not be able to help his team if he is continued to be left in the shadows.