Major clubs always catch a case of the hiccups, some worse than others, but what exactly has Real Madrid in this rut?
Two seasons ago Chelsea went from Premier League winners and untouchable in England to missing out on Europe altogether.
Could Real Madrid be heading down the same path?
Only three weeks into the 2017/18 La Liga campaign, the current title holders find themselves in seventh place. To the surprise of many their counterparts, Atletico Madrid are sitting right above them and there is nothing pretty about this scene.
League leaders and rivals Barcelona top the table, five points clear of what are supposed to be their biggest competitors.
Four points adrift may seem like a drop in the ocean, but given that Real Madrid won by just three points last season shows just how crucial every single point may be.
Many hopefuls are drawing comparisons to last year’s campaign as Madrid started their first six games with three wins and hit a spell of three draws before winning again.
“History has a funny way of repeating itself” as the saying goes, but Florentino Perez is not in the mood for funny business.
RealSport takes a look at five reasons Real are no longer in the driver’s seat and what they need to do to step it up and reclaim the top spot.
1 No solid striker
Out: Alvaro Morata, Mariano Diaz
In: Borja Mayoral
With the conclusion of the transfer window, many people questioned whether Real Madrid will remain the best club in Europe as they could not replace Alvaro Morata.
A fine striker has gone and with Karim Benzema, whose moments of brilliance flicker like a tube light, the number nine position will be one of much contention.
Benzema hasn't been a great help to Madrid and Borja Mayoral is not a game saver, nor someone Zidane would start in the bigger fixtures.
The number nine position needs to be filled in the lineup and fast if Real have any chance of catching up to league leaders Barcelona.
Who better to shoulder that responsibility than someone who has once donned the number nine; Cristiano Ronaldo.
Secondary options may include Gareth Bale or Marco Asensio. Both players are more clinical out on the wings, but if they are granted permission to drop back into midfield play their hunger for goals can still bring about positive results.
2 Ronaldo dependent
Los Blancos started the season in superb form, but no one thought it would go down the hill, even when their star man was handed a five-game ban for a spat with the referee.
Since the conclusion of the Spanish Super Cup and the start of La Liga, Real have been far from superior to their competitors in the final third.
It doesn't come to the shock of many that Madrid have missed Ronaldo and dearly so.
Last season's squad was the greatest team effort that football has seen in a long time, but Ronaldo was as always a big part of the success.
In the 2016/17 season, Ronaldo bagged 25 goals and had six assists. Those stats speak volumes about how important he is to Madrid's success.
Having CR7 back should help the men in the Royal White, hopefully, he will pick up right where he left off for the sake of his club's success this season.
For the faithful of Madrid, Asensio and Isco are now known as the "Pischa Bros" and brothers they are, on and off the pitch.
Both these Spanish stars have been lighting it up across Europe, with praises coming from all ends of the continent.
Since Isco's arrival, he has proven his worth and value to the club with an excellent work ethic. Coming off a high whilst playing for Spain in the World Cup Qualifiers scoring two goals, many were left in dismay why Magia did not start in the game against Levante.
Asensio has been having more than just a breakthrough season, scoring against the biggest clubs in the biggest moments.
Having got two games under his belt, it is important that Zidane keeps the ball rolling as to not stunt his growth.
Play the duo more. The statistics show that having Isco and Asensio on the pitch work wonders, especially in games where a key player such as Luka Modric is not available.
With Isco playing just a third of the game, he delivered three crosses, two of got onto the head of Gareth Bale.
Those crosses weren't delivered through brute force or lightning speed but through vision and technique.
Two weeks ago Asensio saved Real in the 2-2 draw against Valencia showing just how impactful he can be on the team. In last weekends fixture both had a pass completion rate of at least 85%.
4 Poor transfer window
Just rumours, that's all they were, and that's all they ever may be. One thing is for certain though, Real Madrid need to hit the ground running either this January window or next summer.
All the bases seemed to be covered but one. You already know what it is, say it with me... "The striker position". Yes, you got it!
Madrid must make it an absolute priority to find someone who can play the number nine role.
As for now, all the other positions have backups who also have a backup full of youth and talent ready to ripen into the perfect player in their respective roles.
Time is of the essence, and this past window, Madrid showed no care or sign of realising that key component. There seemed to be a lot of chatter amongst the fans and various media outlets, but then no applause of welcome a player.
Several people were linked to the club, and some signings were made, but no action was taken for the big players.
Splash the cash and fast come next summers transfer window. A vote has already been taken to end the window before the season begins in the Premier League and in the unlikely event it comes to fruition in Spain, Real will have even less time to act.
Another reason to act fast is that few clubs will let their strikers go unless the purchasing club shows serious interest and a lot of persuasion through monetary means that is.
5 Too many moving parts
The rotation is key to the genius of the manager that is Zinedine Zidane, but was playing some of the youngsters at the Frenchman's disposal a little too much?
It's hard to make such harsh assumptions about a man who has only lost seven games since arriving at the club in early 2016.
That being said, some of his new additions may just not be ready yet and more time on loan may be more beneficial for both themselves and the club.
One doesn't just tell Zidane what he must do, but leaving Casemiro out of the lineup against Levante and opting to start Marcos Llorente proved risky.
Llorente, amongst other newcomers, may see their playing time tally coming off from the bench rather than a start at least for the next few weeks as Zidane works to get the ship back on track.
Player Interceptions Tackles Clearances Casemiro 4 2 2 Llorente 0 1 1
The table shows how much more effective Casemiro was in the CDM role compared to Llorente.
The young talent is surely one for the future but still requires some fine-tuning that Madrid cannot afford to wait for.
The Spaniard though is a viable substitute for the last 20 minutes to close out a match.
Whether it is a rut or jitter, the greatest clubs are not defined only by their trophy cabinets, but how they got through difficult times.
Having dropped significant points so early on, Zidane will have to push his men through more minutes at least in La Liga to catch up.
Mental and physical strength will be the key to the club this season if they wish to add more trophies to their museum of silverware. Many players need to step up when their manager, and the fans, call upon them.
We have seen this happen before to this same club just last year and the year before. Their success is not based on luck but on grit and hard work.
Real Madrid will resume action this Sunday, September 17th, as they look to get back to their winning ways in Week 4 of the 2017/18 La Liga campaign and race for Spanish supremacy.
What do you think is the cause of Real Madrid's hiccup? Let us know in the comment section below!
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