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Martin Odegaard is one of the sensations of this beginning of La Liga. About to turn 21, he returns to Santiago Bernabéu wearing the Real Sociedad shirt, his home for the next two seasons. Since his arrival at Real Madrid in 2015 from the Norwegian Stromsgodset, this is his third loan after two previous experiences in the Dutch Eredivisie: 18 months at Heerenveen and 12 months at Vitesse. In the latter, and after making a magnificent second round, he took his team to fifth place.
As’s Cover | “Odegaard back to the future: The player is put to the test in the Bernabéu.” pic.twitter.com/UHdKhHXGmb— Real Madrid Info (@RMadridInfo) November 23, 2019
This Saturday's game will be a key test for a player that Madrid considers important for its future, and that has also repeated many times that his goal is to succeed in the white team. "My goal is to succeed at Real Madrid, but now I am very happy at Real. I'm in no hurry if I go to Madrid in two or five years," said the Norwegian in the pre-game against the team that owns his rights. "The loan period in Holland has been good for me. It was important to have minutes, play and take responsibility. It is very difficult to play at Real Madrid at 16, and still is at 20", he completed to explain the process since his arrival at the club.
The important thing in the game at the Bernabéu will be to continue doing all the good things he has done so far with Real Sociedad, which has allowed his team to be fighting for La Liga leadership. Currently the Basque team is fifth in the standings, two points behind the lead, and a win in Madrid would allow them to surpass its rival, although with one game more. One of the highlights of Odegaard at this beginning of the season has been its physical strength. Before the injury suffered against Celta de Vigo, aggravated after playing against Levante, and which prevented him from being part of the lineup against Granada and Leganés, Odegaard was, together with Dani García (Athletic), Fernando Reges (Sevilla) and Saúl (Atlético Madrid), the only midfielder to have played every minute.
On a tactical level, Odegaard has quickly adapted to the 4-2-3-1 proposed by Imanol Alguacil, as the player himself stated: "My favorite position is where I play now. In the center of the field but a bit more offensive and to the right. Last year I played in one of the wings and I like this better, I get the ball much more." Odegaard has occupied the position of offensive midfielder, covered by Merino and Illarramendi -until his injury, now rotating between Guevara and Zubeldia-. At his side, Odegaard has Oyarzabal on his left and Portu or Januzaj on his right. Finally, his reference in attack is Willian José, with Isak generally coming in from the bench.
This great attack system, one of the best and most entertaining to watch in Spanish football this season, works almost perfectly as if they were playing together for a long time, and everything seems to revolve around a newcomer like Odegaard. From the number of occasions created -defined as passes to which a shot follows-, the direct passes to the box, the number of times he gets in contact with the ball in the opposite area, and the number of possessions recovered in the last third of the field, the statistics leave no doubts in regard to his importance to the team.
After the doubting start of the Real Madrid season, with a very changing midfield largely caused by Luka Modric's injury, there has been a healthy debate about the possibility of bringing Odegaard back to Madrid. Comparing the Norwegian with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, Odegaard presents a profile more similar to the Croatian, with more driving and dribbling and a greater presence in the rival area, but he still needs to improve in some areas as the number of lost possessions per game, the completed pass rate or the frequency of shooting, where the other two are still much better according to the stats.
This Saturday November 23, starting at 9:00 pm, we will be able to enjoy a match at the summit of the Spanish League, which anticipates an exciting game. We will check then how Odegaard develops against those who, a priori, will be his future companions. The question is: when?
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