What has gone wrong at Real Madrid?
The Real Madrid Conundrum
Just what is going on behind the lavish expensively crafted walls of the Santiago Bernabeu and Valdebebas?
Its almost unthinkable that at the helm, Zinedine Zidane, club legend and hero, who has just led the famous European and World giants to a record five trophies in a calendar year is having his position questioned by many.
Even by Real Madrid standards, famous for sacking managers on a whim - the infamous Vincente Del Bosque story immediately springs to mind – this on the surface seems almost ludacris, but when delving a little deeper, the cracks may have appeared as far back as last summer.
Madrid’s recruitment policy of snapping up the best youngsters and adding them to a back-to- back Champions League winning side, had many looking on in envious fashion but on the flip side, look who departed and what they took with them. Alvaro Morata, was never going to hang around to be a bit part striker, Pepe, ran down his contract and James Rodriguez moved to Bayern being in a similar position to Morata. This mini exodus saw arguably the strongest squad in Europe lose valuable and vital experience which looks to be causing harm to Real Madrid’s title challenge, trailing way behind arch rivals Barcelona by an incredible 16 points with just over half of the season played.
Yes, Los Blancos, brought in some fantastic younger talent in the shape of Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernandez et al, but there seems to be an intensity glaringly lacking from the first choice 11 players who seem to have their positions set in stone regardless of form and in some cases fitness. They don’t have the pressure of such experience on the bench pushing them to perform that extra 10% required to get late goals and win games late, synonymous with Real Madrid last season.
Taking the point that Zidane’s talented squad are constructed and conditioned to come strong in the second half of the season, as seen in last seasons blisteringly fast paced finish to the season, becoming the only team to retain the Champions League (in its modern format) The counterpoint to the argument this season is that, unlike last season, the squad has been rarely rotated unless injury came banging on the door like an unwanted visitor at Christmas.
For example, take a look at the hugely talented line-up of Dani Ceballos (186 mins.) Mateo Kovacic (156 mins.) Marcos Llorente (237 mins) Jesus Vallejo (270 mins.) and Theo Hernandez (297 mins), with some not even making the match day squad, and a picture is beginning to be painted that maybe boss Zidane doesn’t fully trust what he has in reserve or has blind loyalty to some of his under performing stars.
Lack of rotation aside, “Zizou” did little to keep the wolves from the door and dispel any doubts of his management with the most recent El Clasico team selection, opting to leave a recently fit Gareth Bale, arguably best player over the