Would Marcos Rojo Be an Upgrade on Marcelo for Real Madrid?

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Would Marcos Rojo Be an Upgrade on Marcelo for Real Madrid?
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Argentina's journey to the World Cup final was accompanied throughout by fervent support back home. Alongside the thousands of locals who made it to Brazil to watch the Seleccion, many more packed the streets to celebrate victory over the Netherlands. 

Alejandro Sabella's men were greeted with a hero's welcome on touching down in Buenos Aires, despite losing out to Mario Gotze's strike late in extra time to finish runners-up against Germany.

The achievement of a first final in 24 years was made all the more special by the unusual manner in which it came about. 

FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner Lionel Messi and, in fits and starts, injury-troubled Angel Di Maria aside, the Albiceleste's much-vaunted attack failed to fire during 2014.

It was left to their supposed weakest link, the defence, to shut down the likes of Belgium, the Netherlands and (for 113 minutes) Germany, a job they carried out to great praise. 

Out of that back line, no single member enhanced his profile as much as Marcos Rojo. The Sporting left-back is now in the view of some of Europe's most prestigious clubs.

A move to Real Madrid is just one of the mooted possibilities for the 24-year-old, according to Spanish source Fichajes (via InsideFutbol.com), but would bringing the Argentinian to the Spanish capital make sense for Carlo Ancelotti's team? 

Rojo would certainly face a fierce fight to establish himself on the left.

Brazil full-back Marcelo currently occupies that post, and with seven years at the club renowned for a constant changing of playing personnel he has earned the right to be first-choice.

Still, a number of factors point to a possible changing of the guard at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Comparing the Brazilian's and the Argentinian's performances at the World Cup provides a snapshot of what each player adds to their teams' game. Marcelo's tournament on home soil started disastrously, with an own goal against Croatia, and it ended worse when the Selecao shipped 10 goals against Germany and the Netherlands to finish fourth. 

Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

The attacking left-back was by no means the only man responsible for that humiliation, but his gung-ho attitude to the position certainly did not aid matters. Time and again Marcelo's post was infiltrated while he pushed upfield, leaving Brazil dangerously stretched.

When Thiago Silva was there to cover, the damage could be limited, but without the towering Paris Saint-Germain man, and with the similarly over-enthusiastic David Luiz left to anchor the defence, the results were devastating for the hosts. 

Admittedly, Madrid are not quite as fragile as Brazil in defence. The pairing of Sergio Ramos and Pepe or Raphael Varane in the middle gives the team a solid base, while Dani Carvajal is a more orthodox right-back who helps anchor the back line when Marcelo goes on the rampage.

Problems could still appear in that sector, however. Accommodating new signing James Rodriguez among Madrid's star-studded line-up will inevitably leave the Merengues more exposed. The Colombian joined the European champions on Tuesday, as reported by BBC Sport.

A theoretical Madrid midfield of Lukas Modric and Toni Kroos playing behind Gareth Bale, James and Cristiano Ronaldo removes Sami Khedira and Di Maria from the equation, creating the issue of starting with five men, plus Marcelo, who like to start play from the halfway line onward.

The La Liga giants have never struggled to score goals, but such a kamikaze starting line-up would inevitably need their full-back to check his attacking instincts, something he was clearly unable to do in the World Cup. 

This is where Rojo comes into the picture. The former Estudiantes youngster is not as exciting or as attack-minded as the man he could replace. But in almost all key defensive comparisons, he is the more solid performer.

Rojo is not afraid to go forward, far from it, but he understands that his primary role is to mark and frustrate opponents who stray onto his flank, a job that, in Portugal and in the World Cup, he has carried out with great heart and expertise. 

The defender is not the kind of player who is usually welcomed through the gates of the Santiago Bernabeu. He will not carry a record-breaking transfer fee nor lift Madrid shirt sales to astronomic levels.

He is an anti-Galactico, a signing that goes against all of president Florentino Perez's media-friendly instincts. 

But for that reason, Rojo is exactly the kind of man who can ensure that the new members of the club's gallery of superstars do not leave them horrifically unbalanced and vulnerable at the other end.

In short, while he may not be an upgrade on Marcelo, signing the left-back would give Madrid a coherence and consistency at the back vital over the course of a 38-game La Liga marathon.

The Brazilian is not the man to lead the Merengues to a first league title since 2012, but buying Rojo would give Ancelotti a much better chance come May next year. 

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