What’s not clicking at Real Madrid this season?
The Champions League winners haven’t hit last year’s heights
After winning the Champions League and La Liga last season, Real Madrid looked on the verge of an era of dominance.
Their status as the best side in Spain looked assured when Barcelona sold Neymar. Gerard Pique even said he felt inferior to Real for the first time following their Spanish Super Cup triumph.
But Zinedine Zidane’s side have been below-par in domestic and European action so far this season. They’re fourth in La Liga, eight points behind Barcelona at the top. They finished second in their Champions League group too, having only taken one point from six against Tottenham Hotspur.
The club have a big game against Sevilla this weekend. They’re 3/10 favourites, but if they lose they could drop out of the top four and increase the pressure on Zidane further.
Ahead of the match, the Coral News Team have taken a look at where it’s going wrong for Madrid this season.
Lack of depth
The Madrid starting eleven is packed with world-class players. But the squad is thin in key areas.
Marcelo’s not been at his best this term. But there’s no one to come in for him on the left side of defence. When Dani Carvajal was out of action for six weeks, the only alternative at right-back was 18-year-old Achraf Hakimi.
The departures of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez are also being keenly felt. They directly contributed to 39 goals in the Champions League and La Liga last season and haven’t been properly replaced.
Zidane was able to rotate his team brilliantly last season, sharing the load around the squad to keep everyone fit and hungry.
Injuries and a lack of options mean that he doesn’t have as much scope to changes things this term.
How does Zidane deal with the pressure?
Zinedine Zidane became the first manager to lead his team to successive Champions League titles last season. It may seem ridiculous, but there’s already been some speculation over his future at the Bernabeu.
He was one of the greatest midfielders of all time as a player. But he’s never had to navigate his way through choppy waters in his brief managerial career so far.
Looking at things objectively, Madrid still have a chance to regain ground on Barcelona in the league and they’re in the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
But he knows better than most that Madrid don’t operate like most clubs. Even an icon like Zidane is vulnerable if they don’t win the big trophies.
More stardust needed?
They say it’s hard to get to the top but it’s even harder to stay there. Most of Real Madrid’s players have now won all there is to win in the club game.
They were so focused on becoming the first team to retain the Champions League, it wouldn’t be a surprise if their motivation dipped marginally this term. What else is there for them to achieve?
Cristiano Ronaldo is now 32-years-old. Even a player of his remarkable standards has to slow down eventually. With doubts over Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale struggling for fitness, the club wanted to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco this summer to lead the club’s attack for years to come.
However, even Real Madrid can’t compete with Paris Saint-Germain’s riches.
They didn’t sign an alternative to Mbappe and probably should have done. A new star would have kept the players on their toes and added competition for places.
It’s not a surprise that talk of Eden Hazard moving to the Bernabeu has sparked up again recently. Bringing in a player in that bracket would help to reinvigorate the whole club.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing