The keys to Madrid’s points drain in LaLiga


The Blancos are showing signs of a variety of problems: with their football, their fitness, their finishing, their hunger to win and the lack of internal competition…

Real Madrid are now 16 points adrift of league leaders Barcelona, though they do have a game in hand, against Leganés. The stat is embarrassing for the defending LaLiga champions and holders of the Champions League title. What is it that is happening to Zidane’s team at this stage of the season?

The Blancos are bleeding, however much the manager and the players might deny it. It’s not about a drop in fitness, they say, or footballing problems, or even a lack of attitude. One thing is the protectionist spiel coming out from within the club, quite another is what is actually happening to the team. The truth is, only Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas came out of the debacle in Vigo able to hold their heads high.

Analysing the game against Celta at Balaídos helps make a lot of things understandable. The first thing is that the team are not playing well, and are therefore not scoring goals. A quick glance at Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema’s numbers gives a clue to one of the keys to the nosedive the team have taken. Bale, having played far fewer games, is on the same number of goals as the number 9.

Another detail to bear in mind is the drop in the level of fitness of certain key players such as Modric or Kroos. Right now, in the creative area, it is clear that they have a problem, and what that problem is. They are ‘wooden’, and the problem Zidane has is that he has nobody on the bench who comes anywhere near their level. Before, the presence of a player such as James Rodríguez was enough of a kick in the backside to keep them in form.

Everyone knows Madrid let in goals, it has become something of a running joke over recent seasons. As well as this, the form Marcelo is in has become quite worrying. Ever since he picked up his last injury, he has not been the same. The worst thing about this is that the player signed as an understudy, Theo Hernández, has until now not shown that he is really up to the task.

In the midst of all this hullabaloo, the second string have not performed at the same level as they did last year in the moments they were called upon in LaLiga. And that means that the theoretical first-choice players live and train knowing that their place in the team is safe and there is nobody competing for it.

Zidane also has a lot of the blame for what is happening to the team. Up to a certain point, it is logical that he should continue to bank on the players who have brought him so much success. With each setback, though, it is becoming obvious just how little ability he has to adapt when games get difficult. One thing is to set up a good starting XI, quite another is to change the way they unfold by taking decisions that influence them.