Real Madrid have seen troubles this season. A below average La Liga campaign, an early Copa Del Rey exit and the prospect of facing Paris St. Germain in the UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 are signs to worry, even for a club as big as the Spanish giants.
So what exactly went wrong for the greatest club in the world after 2 brilliant seasons?
Let’s take a look at the WHY and let’s elucidate on the HOW those problems can be fixed:
#1. Squad Depth In The Right Places:
It was recently reported that Cristiano Ronaldo was displeased with the sale of Columbian play-making ace James Rodriguez, defender Pepe and striker Alvaro Morata to Bayern Munich, Besiktas, and Chelsea, respectively. In a way, he’s right.
What Morata brings to the table is something that Benzema doesn’t, which is pace and the ability to be clinical inside the box on a regular basis. A player like Morata is perfect if you’re trying to build a formation with an out-and-out striker who won’t shy away from taking crucial shots and making tireless runs into the opposition’s final third.
And on the other hand, selling James meant that doors opened for guys like Mateo Kovacic, who hasn’t quite hit the ground running among the Bernabeu faithful. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fantastic player. But a player like James is what you need when you want to break oppositions with counter attacks using raw speed and creativity. Add that to his brilliant long-range shooting ability and you have yourself two things:
A. A formation of 4-1-2-1-2 where James can play behind Ronaldo and Benzema/Morata
B. Using James as a left/right forward in a 4-3-3 with Bale/Benzema and Ronaldo
Pepe adds defensive variation and that’s always an added bonus. But these formations mentioned above subdue the role of Isco which is highlighted in my next point.
#2. Isco Is Not As Disco As We Think Of Him To Be:
Using a 4-1-2-1-2 formation is a task of great burden but Zidane executed it perfectly in the 2017-18 season by deploying Isco behind the 2-man strike force of Ronaldo and Benzema. Real Madrid ended up as La Liga winners and won the Champions League, becoming the first club to win the latter two years in a row since the competition’s modern format.
But that should’ve been it.
Gareth Bale has shown tremendous progress since his return and it’s about time that Isco’s ineffectiveness is recognized and he’s shown his way to the bench and used against teams which require the use of an extra midfielder.
A 4-3-3 suits Real Madrid brilliantly and the goals don’t lie. Isco’s freedom as a number 10 allows him to drift wide left, play via central channels, drift wide right, drop right, play in the final third ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
For someone who doesn’t play football, think of it as giving a guy 100% freedom to roam on the pitch and telling the other 10 to build the game around him. Isco is a gifted player but his gameplay slows down the entire team.
He dwells too much on the ball with his fancy tricks and is ridiculously ineffective in clutch moments, where he will fancy taking an outrageous shot at the goal himself rather than passing it to a player in a better position, which is generally either Ronaldo or Benzema.
Isco’s omission from the squad has, AS OF NOW, brought back the goals for Real Madrid, much evident by their recent 7-1 win against Deportivo and a 4-1 win against Valencia at Mestalla because of the fluidity that the team enjoys and it has helped the forwards like Bale and Ronaldo to score freely, thanks to a brilliant midfield which complements their gameplay.
#3. Rotation In Copa Del Rey And Future Signings:
Last season’s strategy to deploy Real Madrid’s second string side in Copa Del Rey backfired, again.
Playing Leganes at Bernabeu with a drastically bad home record this season and a 1-0 lead from the previous leg, Real Madrid should’ve played their best squad with a few changes to kill the tie comprehensively.
They didn’t and got knocked out. That should serve as a wake-up call to Zidane.
As for the future signings, we need a striker. We because I’m a Madridista myself and I’d love to see someone as versatile as Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane join the club and it’s about time that we bid Karim Benzema adieu, even after his tremendous services to the club.
The back-line could use a decent central defender but it’s the front line which needs more work to put up a credible title challenge next season.
As of now, all eyes are on Real Madrid and Zidane to see how they turn their season around. Two consecutive wins with a 7-1 and 4-1 scoreline seem like it’s happening but it’s important to keep the momentum going till the season ends.
Image Credits: Google Images
You’d Also Like To Read: