With James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata already off the squad, Zinedine Zidane now needs to devise a plan to cover for the 31 times they scored for Real Madrid last season. Twenty-three of those goals happened in La Liga during the several occasions in which both players, key components of Real Madrid’s “B team,” shone against mid-to-lower table opposition.

League championships are often won by not dropping points against those type of teams, so the loss of two unhappy, but very productive, players — with another demanding season in the making and a manager who believes in rotating as much as possible — will be sorely felt.

The first alternative would consist of an increase in minutes — and hopefully, goals scored — for some squad members who had limited chances to play last season. The first name that comes to mind is Marco Asensio, scorer of only three goals in the past term and who has enjoyed just over 1,000 minutes.

Of course, Asensio’s numbers should improve as his importance to the team increases, but he’s not a natural scorer. During the 2015-16 season in Espanyol he managed to score only four times in almost 3,000 minutes of football, though he assisted teammates on 10 other goals. It could be expected that the immensely skilled youngster would get close to James’ eight La Liga goals next season, but he won’t be anywhere near Morata’s 15.

Lucas Vazquez disappointed many last term, but should also see his playing time increase after the summer with the current squad configuration. Similar to Asensio, he’s not a prolific striker, but two goals in almost 1,400 La Liga minutes look well below what the young Galician should deliver.

Of course, more should be also expected from Karim Benzema. In his case, the low numbers have nothing to do with lack of playing time, but with his finishing. Always complimented because of the way he understands Cristiano Ronaldo’s game, Real Madrid’s No. 9 should score more than 11 times in 29 La Liga matches, even if he defers to Ronaldo in certain situations.

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