The biggest footballing club in the world needs to get over the blues following the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. Existing players need to step up and sing their own tune in order for Real Madrid to assert dominance over their European rivals.
The club football season of 2018-19 is three-quarter of its way till completion, yet it’s practically over for one mammoth club. Yes, I’m talking about the Spanish giants Real Madrid. They were the winners of the past three Champions League tournament, yet it was their humiliating Round of 16 loss to Ajax in the same tournament that drew the curtain on their run this season. They were also defeated by arch-rivals Barcelona in the semifinals of Copa del Rey and are third in La Liga standings with 12 games remaining, twelve points behind the Catalan giants. So what transpired this season that witnesses the fall of the biggest football club in the world.
First and foremost, the departure of 5-time Ballon d’Or Cristiano Ronaldo has reverberated across the capital of Spain. He was the prominent figure in Real Madrid’s success in the past half-a-decade, scoring important goals at crucial times and leading the team on his shoulders. His move to Juventus was a shock to the system, so severe that Real Madrid couldn’t bounce back from it. Gareth Bale was supposed to fill in his massive shoes but has been far from successful so far. Another striker, Karin Benzema, has failed to find his shooting boots and have been practically non-existent this season. Croatian Luka Modric, the winner of the latest Ballon d’Or, has failed to deliver when it has mattered. His perseverance and tenacity have been the same, however, his passes haven’t been converted by the failing strikers.
One may also argue that the step-down of manager Zinedine Zidane has had a bigger impact on the performance of the team. He had been instrumental in bringing the team together during the past seasons, and his successor Santiago Solari hasn’t managed to bind the team together. He has experimented with different formations and has failed to find a winning formula. Real Madrid’s defense has been vulnerable on multiple occasions and has been exploited by many teams. In the Round of 16 defeat, Ajax benefited from the absence of Captain Sergio Ramos and managed to score 4 goals in the Santiago Bernabeu.
It’s no wonder that, following the Champions League exit, Solari is set to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, who himself was fired from Manchester United. He has previously managed the side to a somewhat acceptable range of success, but has to outperform his last stint now. Already eliminated from all competitions, Mourinho can spend the remainder of the season experimenting with the squad and utilizing the vast potential of its existing players. Only then can Real Madrid threaten its rivals the following season.