thumbnail Hello, assesses the qualities of Real Madrid's new left-back and the man he will be looking to replace at the Santiago Bernabeu next season


Many Real Madrid fans have been left scratching their heads by the signing of Fabio Coentrao. Coach Jose Mourinho has paid a huge sum, €30 million, for a player with undoubted talent but who would appear to be very similar to one who is already at the club: Marcelo.

When asked last season if he would be signing Coentrao, Mourinho said: "I don't need another Marcelo," but now he has one and it would appear, given the huge outlay to bring in the Benfica star, that the Portuguese full-back will now be favourite to start on the left next term.

Here, takes a look at the two defenders.


Fabio Coentrao



50 2010-11 APPEARANCES
5 2010-11 GOALS
10 2010-11 ASSISTS 6
MENTAL ATTRIBUTES (Marks out of 5)
"Marcelo is fiercely competitive and often riles his opponents, as he showed by punching the air when Peter Crouch was sent off for Tottenham at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League quarter-finals," remembers's Spain editor Ben Hayward.

"He also confessed – according to Dani Alves – to diving to win his side a penalty following his compatriot’s challenge in the league match between Barcelona and Madrid in early April. Often booked but rarely sent off, Marcelo knows how to keep his emotions in check when he needs to but stops at nothing to secure victory for his side."

"Coentrao is a very aggressive player," says's Portuguese expert Luis Mira. "He gives all he has on the field and is not afraid of a big match. His rivalry with Porto was visible during the matches against the Portuguese champions, just like the enthusiasm he puts in to defending the club he represents."

"At the same time, Coentrao's bravery puts him in a difficult situation; sometimes, he is very harsh in his challenges and tends to lose his temper quickly. He was the club's second most booked player in the league last season, with seven yellow cards and two reds."

"Marcelo has good technical ability, is a decent passer and can provide excellent crosses as he ventures forward," says Ben. "His tackling has improved notably since his early days at Madrid and, like most Brazilians in his position, he is much more of a wing-back than a traditional full-back."

"Marcelo can cut inside but links up especially well with the player in front of him, namely Cristiano Ronaldo. His dribbling is very good and he possesses a fierce shot, causing a threat both from close range and from distance. His positional sense at the back is questionable on occasions, but he has improved this aspect of his game notably over the last two seasons – and particularly under Jose Mourinho, returning to a full-back role under the Portuguese."

Luis says: "As a natural winger, Coentrao has very good technique, as well as passing and crossing. With just two years as a left-back it is surprising that his tackling is also very good, with the player not afraid to make some well-timed sliding tackles."

"On the other hand, Coentrao tends to stay on his wing as he does not feel very comfortable using his right foot. His finishing is not very good and he rarely tries his luck from distance. Since he does not have much experience as a defender, he sometimes commits some mistakes at the back, which can put his team in a difficult situation."

       PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES (Marks out of 5)
"Marcelo is not an aerial presence, but makes up for his lack of height with sheer strength, stamina and power," says Ben.

"He is almost always available to support the midfield and forward players and uses his explosive pace to compensate for his deficiencies in terms of his concentration and his positioning, which can be poor."

Coentrao is a very explosive and fast winger, and his never-give-up attitude is seen here: his stamina seems to know no bounds," says Luis. "He is not very strong physically and may lose one-on-one situations against players who are better prepared in that department."

"As usually happens with a diminutive player, his jumping is one of his weak spots and his heading is just average."

77 / 100
OVERALL 75 / 100

"Coentrao has impressed in the Portuguese league and in his national team, but he will now be expected to adapt immediately to his new surroundings," says Ben. "Marcelo has been at Madrid since 2007 and now looks a great player, but Coentrao will need to settle quickly and only then will we be able to tell if he is a better player than Marcelo."

Luis is backing his countryman. "Coentrao is a better player than Marcelo," he said. "But he isn't €30 million better."

The attributes head-to-head above seems to suggest otherwise, though, with Marcelo beating Coentrao by two points.

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Fabio Coentrao or Marcelo - who is the better left-back?