Real Madrid had the worst 2018-19 season among all the top clubs of Europe. What has led to their downfall?
It’s pretty unusual for a club as big as Real Madrid to end the season without any major silverware. Real Madrid now have hit the panic button after a disastrous season which has seen the arrival and departure of three managers- first Zidane stepped down, in came Julen Lopetegui, after him came Santiago Solari and now Zidane is back again at the helm. Real Madrid was knocked out of all the competitions in just a week, after losing three consecutive matches at their home ground, Santiago Bernabeu. The week ranging from 27th February to 5th March has been the worst in their 117-year history: three home defeats, eight goals conceded and just one goal scored, all three competitions gone, one after the other – knocked out of the Copa del Rey, the La Liga title race, and the Champions League. But what has led to the downfall of the hugely successful team who have just won three consecutive Champions League titles?
One of the major reason which led to Real Madrid’s disastrous season was their inability to replace Cristiano Ronaldo who left for Juventus in the last summer. We know it’s impossible for any player on this planet to fill his boots. Losing a player like Ronaldo, who used to score 50 goals in each season is too much to afford for this Real Madrid side. But Real Madrid should have done better than signing Mariano Diaz and giving him the no. 7 shirt to replace Ronaldo!
Gareth Bale was tipped to take over the leadership but he has failed miserably and an exit in this transfer window is on the cards. It’s been quite the demise for Real Madrid no. 11 – just 12 months after his Champions League final heroics, Los Blancos can’t get Bale out of the door quickly enough. It’s a sad end to what’s been a rollercoaster ride for the former Tottenham man. There’s no doubt he’s had some memorable moments in the famous white shirt, but chronic injuries and the weight of expectation have seen him become a husk of his former self.
As we have seen in recent times, Real Madrid’s biggest strength in the previous years has become their weakness now. Earlier Kroos and Modric used to dominate the midfield, but their age has taken a toll on their playing too. Real Madrid’s midfield trio of Casemiro, Kroos and Modric have faded. They all look like positional midfielders and you can’t win a match with three positional midfielders. There is no penetration from the midfield which increases the pressure on the front three. Luka Modric has been a shadow of his former self this season. The Ballon d’Or winner was nowhere near his best and this badly affected the Real Madrid midfield.
Only Benzema has flourished this season after the departure of Ronaldo. Benzema has had the season of his life. He is back inside the six-yard box and back to scoring goals. He’s got over 20 goals for the first time in eight seasons and looks like, once again, one of the best centre forwards in Europe. He is one of the very few Real Madrid stars to come out with any credit this season.
Despite some poor performances, Zidane has shown faith in Toni Kroos. Zidane revealed that he is a part of his plan for next season. The German midfielder has signed a new contract with Los Blancos, tying him to the club until 2023. Real Madrid confirmed the news on Monday morning. Kroos will be 33 by the time the contract ends.
Since joining the Spanish giants in 2014, the German has won three Champions League titles and one La Liga. He has scored 13 times in 233 appearances across all competition and the new deal signals his importance under Zinedine Zidane.
Kroos was asked about the impact of Pogba’s arrival on his playing position. He told the media conference: “That doesn’t change anything for me. I’ve fought for my place, played well, I don’t think I’ll have any problems to play. I don’t know who’s going to go, I don’t know who’s going to come. I’ve spoken to the manager, I know what his idea is. I’m going to be important, I can’t say anything else. I don’t know how many changes there are going to be. I’ve never had any doubts about my future. I want to be here always, and I’ve always said that.”
Kross also replied on Mbappe’s rumoured arrival at Real Madrid: “I like Mbappe as a player but that question’s not for me really. I can’t buy him, I’ve got a good contract but I can’t buy him. That’s a question for the club.”
Toni Kroos has always shown his desire to retire at Real Madrid. He told: “Many times, after the game against Ajax for example, I admitted that I wasn’t at my level, I’ve got no problem to say that.
I really want to improve how I played but before I played four years consistently well, this year I played worse than the four years before that’s true. I’m still the same player, 29 years of age, and I still have three or four years at the top level I’m sure. The idea is to practically finish my career here, at age 38 I don’t think I’ll still be playing. The idea is this will be my last long contract here.”
Toni Kroos also tried to explain the reasons for Real Madrid’s disastrous season: “This year I don’t think any player really reached their top level. When that happens in a lot of players it’s difficult to have success. We’re all human beings. This is probably normal after winning three successive Champions Leagues. What’s not normal is winning three successive Champions Leagues. I thought that was impossible, but we did it. It’s probably a bit normal to not be at the highest level.
The club’s going to change things, I’m happy to be here for another four years and I’m sure we’re going to have success together. When I see the semi-finals of the Champions League, the English clubs gave everything to come to this final, there you could see how difficult it is to win three times in a row this competition.
The only thing we can do is to prepare for the next season, then we’ll see how it’s going. I’m still happy here not only when we things, but I’m still happy to improve again and that’s what we’re going to do.
In previous years we’ve been at maximum level when we’ve had to be at maximum level, to do that for 38 games is difficult, we have to improve a lot.”
The Germany international added further: “For me this renewal is special for me, it’s a good sign from the club, I’ve got a very special relationship with the club. Since the first day, the club have had a lot of confidence in me, I’ve helped the club to win a lot of titles. Together we’re going to try to achieve a lot more success. If I had doubts about my future I wouldn’t be here today.”
Real Madrid are now preparing for a major transfer overhaul. Zidane is aware that the squad needs an almost wholesale overhaul and will play a major part in the recruitment process this summer. One of the main tenants of him, agreeing to come back to Santiago Bernabeu was that he would have a major influence on signings. Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic has reportedly agreed on personal terms with Real Madrid and Mbappe has also hinted at a possible departure from PSG. Pogba is also on the radar. A new left-back is also desperately needed to back up Marcelo. Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez haven’t turned up all season, that needs to be sorted and the whole Isco situation also needs resolution.
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