Real Madrid have reasons to be concerned ahead of the new season – opinion

Saying that Real Madrid are having a bad summer would be a dire understatement. Even stating that they are having a tough year would probably not suffice. Saying that they are in a crisis, however, would get you somewhat closer to the mark; not entirely hitting the bullseye but surely close enough.

Yes, the season has not yet begun, yes, Zinedine Zidane has only been back for a short while, and yes, it’s a process that takes time but that doesn’t really change the fact that, to put it mildly, Real Madrid are quite dreadful at the moment.

People will most likely say, “well, yeah, they will undoubtedly improve once the new La Liga season kicks off”. True, but it’s really difficult to go anywhere other than up when you’re kissing the pavement already.

So yes, they will probably improve but the question remains – can they improve enough to be relevant in the 2019/20 campaign. Judging by the earliest of signs? No.

To find the explanation for that rather bold statement about the once kings of Europe, we have to cast our minds into the past. Namely, two seasons ago to 2017/18, when Real Madrid last won the Champions League. That season was also pretty substandard by Los Blancos’ self-imposed, ridiculously high standards.

Yes, they won a couple of titles, as is expected from them, but they finished third in La Liga, a colossal 17 points behind Barcelona and three behind the second-placed Atletico Madrid.

They were knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the quarter-final by Leganes of all teams, who, just to make it clear, finished 17th in La Liga that season.

The road to European glory was also not really much of a bragging point for the Galacticos. Sure, they’ve beaten some huge names along the way, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Bayern Munich and finally Liverpool, but not a single game was won without controversy, backlash, drama and, quite frankly, sluggish performances. And this goes further back than just 2017/18.

2018 05 27T054333Z 1654699940 RC19DCF94B70 RTRMADP 3 SOCCER CHAMPIONS FINAL - Real Madrid have reasons to be concerned ahead of the new season - opinion

But no one remembers that, right? All that matters is the trophy was secured come the end of the tournament. Well, yes, that is true for the most part but also – everyone remembers what happened in 2017/18 and everyone remembers how bad Real Madrid looked throughout the year.

So what exactly does that have to do with their 2019/20 campaign? Well, the signs were already there two years ago and even back then it was already prime time for Florentino Perez to address the problems the team had been experiencing. The strikers’ goal scoring return decreased to 94 goals in La Liga, down from 106 from the season before that. And sure, one could argue that it’s not really that big of a change, and granted, you can score “just” 94 goals and still win the league, but they were on a steady decline.

How many did they score the season after that? Just 63, almost 30 less than Barcelona, who once again left them in the dust and claimed the La Liga title. Then there was another glaring problem with the team. While the 2016/17 Real Madrid, the one that last clinched the Spanish crown, had exceptional squad depth, the one that came after it, was merely a shadow of its former self.

They offloaded Alvaro Morata to Chelsea, James Rodriguez was loaned out to Bayern Munich, Pepe was sold on a free transfer to Besiktas, Mariano went to Lyon and Danilo to Manchester City. And then, the icing on the cake – Ronaldo also packed his bags and moved on to Turin at the end of that season, and Real Madrid’s last hopes of success went along with him.

Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus e1535984661561 - Real Madrid have reasons to be concerned ahead of the new season - opinion

The third problem was also a big one, as you’d probably imagine at this point – the core of the team is getting old. Luka Modrić is 33, Sergio Ramos also 33, Marcelo 31, Toni Kroos 29, Gareth Bale 30 and Karim Benzema 31.

A couple of seasons back, they already should’ve seen this one coming. And while they have made certain transfers, the most important players are still the oldest.

While that is usually the natural order before a new generation takes over, this represents a huge problem. They may end up buying more players but the fact remains – the core has not been adequately refreshed and with a steady decline already in place, the future looks set to follow the same trend.

Some issues, however, have been addressed with their newest arrivals. Big money signings like Eden Hazard and Luka Jović will certainly have a say in the future and they do suggest Real Madrid just might be aware of their problem at hand. Hazard, in particular, looks destined to play a starring role in the starting XI this season.

The first steps to reinvigorate the squad have been made but there is still plenty of work to be done.

But the most concerning factor is that all of these signs have been present for a couple of years now, leaving Madrid with more than enough time to address them, fix the issues and continue dominating.

Miracles do happen but it seems rather unlikely that they will suddenly just snap out of it. The humiliation against Atletico Madrid in a pre-season friendly should have been their wake-up call.

They don’t really have to look too far back for proof that pre-season can paint a much clearer picture of what’s to come than people might think. Just take a look at Manchester United in 2018/19. After an awful pre-season tour, the Red Devils ended up having a shocker in the Premier League, sacking Jose Mourinho by December and dropping all the way to sixth place in the table.

The Galacticos are in a fairly similar position.

This crisis has been cooking for a while and it’s looking increasingly likely that it might reach its crescendo in the following season. How will Real Madrid stop it from happening?

We’ll all have to wait and see but make sure you bring your popcorn with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *