It seems like a long time ago that the footballing world was revelling in the success of Real Madrid.
Fresh off of dismantling their arch-rivals Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup 5-1 on aggregate, everyone was expecting this team of incredible talents to decimate the footballing world.
However, we’re now a few weeks into the new season and it seems everything that could have gone wrong for Real Madrid has gone wrong.
From injuries and suspensions to multiple key players to shock results, Zinedine Zidane and his men find themselves in a hole at present.
Seventh in La Liga and eight points behind the current table toppers, Barcelona.
How has the team that won back-to-back Champions League titles had such a poor start to what seemed to be their campaign where they would win it all?
Here at RealSport, we will look into some of the reasons the 12-time European Champions are struggling up to this point.
A botched summer window
One major factor this term that could be causing issues for Los Blancos is the fact they didn’t have a particularly productive summer.
Despite bringing in some prodigious talents in the form of Dani Ceballos, Marcos Llorente, Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo, they didn’t replace their outgoing players in any way.
Alvaro Morata, who contributed 20 goals from the bench alone, was sold to Chelsea and James Rodriguez, who also provided double digits in goals and assists, was loaned out to Bayern. Both those players last term were fantastic as options for Real to bring on when they needed some extra push in a game and also as good options for rotation.
Karim Benzema has had a poor start to the campaign, putting in lacklustre performances and now also getting injured for a prolonged period.
His backup option? Borja Mayoral, a player who despite showing promise, is no way near the standard of what Morata provided.
James Rodriguez has not been replaced at all. Despite having the sensational Isco and wonderkid, Marco Asensio, James is a player that Madrid could have used within the last few weeks to help in bringing in results.
Many fans feel that the wrong striker was let go and the fact he has not been replaced has got Madrid fans worried. With the team struggling for goals lately, will the sales of James and Morata be something that continues to bite the team late into the campaign?
With Ronaldo having returned from his five-game ban, there may be an upswing in form, but for now, fans are looking on wondering what if James and Morata had remained at the club…
Dips in form
Another issue that is troubling the Madrid faithful is the form of some players, with starters such as Dani Carvajal, Benzema and Keylor Navas so far all having shaky starts to the season.
Despite showing glimpses and flashes of form, Carvajal he has also had moments of complete madness. The Spanish fullback was a stalwart for the side last season, but crucially he doesn’t have any major competition for his spot.
Madrid fans will hope he picks his form up sooner rather than later.
Keylor Navas is a player who is hotly debated across the Spanish capital. The Costa Rican ‘keeper has games where he is incredible, but he is also often prone to error as seen a few times this season.
With consistent rumours surrounding his place and his future in the team, many are wondering whether he’s good enough for Real Madrid.
Links to David de Gea, Thibaut Courtois and Gigi Donnarumma consistently refuse to disappear, so it begs the question: Should Real look to replace Navas?
A factor that has also become apparent in the Spanish capital is the fact the team seems to have moments in the game where they have no tactical idea.
In their shock loss to Real Betis recently, for example, the team looked flat for a lot of the game. They often resorted to hoofing the ball into the box from wide areas and were not the usual cool and crisp passing team we saw last season.
The bland idea of constant crosses made them predictable and easy enough to defend for Real Betis, who snatched a 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
This lapse in their game may result from fatigue from the fact the players have not had as much rest as some others or the possibility of becoming complacent.
Madrid may just expect these games to be easy enough for them not to break a sweat which seems to lead to them panicking in games where they are in search of a late winning goal. This scenario, as seen in the week against Betis, leaves them prone to errors and counter-attacks which is exactly how they conceded in the 94th minute of the game.
Another possibility is that Zidane is making poor tactical decisions. A player like Dani Ceballos was perfect for the Betis game, a midfielder capable of creating spaces and chances. It was Ceballos, not Lucas Vasquez who should have come on late in the game against Betis.
Zidane has not given much of a chance to players like Ceballos so far, which ultimately could cost the team vital points.
RealSport Verdict: Battle lost, but the war isn’t over
Despite a poor start, Real Madrid are still more than capable of turning their fortune around. With world-class talents and the wealth of options still at the club, the team needs to pick up their form.
Zidane can take solace in the fact he has played some of the tougher games early and will now have a much easier run toward the new year. His rivals in Barcelona, meanwhile, have a much harder run in the lead up to the first Clasico.
With the Catalan club having not played a single top eight team yet and also looking shaky in some of the opening games, they have yet to be tested.
Real Madrid must win the majority of their games between now and then and hope one of the tricky games catches Barcelona off-guard.
The season is still young and the battle for the Spanish league title has barely begun.
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