No One’s Invincible in Football: Real Madrid’s Struggles
Real Madrid came into the 2017/18 season having won back-to-back Champions League titles (the first team to have ever done it), and also, as the reigning champions of Spanish football. Now, Madrid’s season is at risk of falling apart, something no one could have predicted.
At the beginning of this season, Real Madrid seemed to pick up right where they left off last year; they put five goals past their arch-rivals Barcelona over two games in the Spanish Super Cup. They conquered Manchester United to claim the European Super Cup. However, these matches seem to be the last positive moments of Madrid’s season. Ever since those victories, Madrid’s super-team has struggled to find goals and any form of consistency. What felt like minor changes over the summer transfer window, now feel like tragedies.
Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez both departed from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, and while neither man was in Zinedine Zidane’s first XI, they were a huge part of the team’s success. On more than one occasion James Rodriguez was in the headlines last year for coming off the bench and helping Madrid to victory. Whereas Morata, who also came off the bench the majority of the time, scored nineteen goals last year – rivaling main striker Benzema. Allowing these two to leave has certainly hurt this Madrid side more than people expected it to.
Madrid’s changes seem to be having an incredibly negative impact, but to make matters worse, Barcelona’s changes have been working wonders. On paper this should have been a dominant season for Real Madrid, however, since the opening game of La Liga, their rivals Barcelona have looked like the well-oiled machine. The addition of former Tottenham reject, Paulinho has been a revelation for Barcelona.
With Paulinho, Barcelona has a rock solid foundation in the middle of the pitch, which has provided the likes of Lionel Messi more freedom to attack and wreak havoc on the opposition defences. Also, with Barcelona’s one-hundred and thirty-five million pound signing, Ousmane Dembele currently out injured, they still find themselves eight points ahead of Madrid in the league. These are certainly worrying signs for Zidane’s men.
Real Madrid’s struggles are not just down to changes made during the summer, injuries have played a part, and it’s also due to the form of their big stars. Ronaldo served a five-match suspension at the beginning of the season, and since returning, has not been his usual clinical self. Benzema’s desire to support Ronaldo seems to have taken a toll on his ability to score goals himself. As a top striker, Benzema is not taking responsibility by providing his fair share of goals - having scored only two goals this season.
Coming off back-to-back defeats to Girona in the league and Tottenham in the Champions League, their defensive deficiencies have also been exposed. While Madrid has never been the strongest defensive team in the world, they have not usually been this poor at the back. Sergio Ramos, the captain, and supposed leader has been at the forefront of Madrid’s problems. He has looked lost in defence, with the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli picking the defence apart at will. There also seems to be a lack of desire from the Real Madrid captain, and it is his desire that has made him such an important part of this squad.
What Real Madrid’s struggles have proven – is that no one is invincible in Football. They seemed unmatched in the world of football at the beginning of the season, but now they are going through one of their worst patches in quite some time. It has been reported that Ronaldo’s fitness programme is designed to help him peak towards the end of the season, but with Madrid’s current form, they may have nothing left to play for come to the end of the season.
Written by Humza Hussain