By now, even those of you who don’t follow soccer in the slightest have heard about the woes of Real Madrid’s 2018-2019 season. In La Liga, the first division Spanish League, Real Madrid currently sits in fifth place, a shameful position for a club of such a large magnitude and prowess. However, due to the fact that their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, was sold to Juventus, as well as the fact that their coach of legendary status, Zinedine Zidane, stepped away, Real Madrid finds themselves struggling to assert themselves, especially in La Liga play.
Before we get out of control, in terms of global footballing standards, Real Madrid is still a top team, doing quite well. They have qualified for the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, winning their group and coming in ahead of Roma, another top European club. Still, what is most disconcerting is the fact that Real Madrid shows no signs of improvement. Their status in La Liga is due to the fact that they have dropped multiple games to low-level teams in La Liga, most recently to Real Sociedad, losing 2-0 on January 6th, 2019. It appears that this first loss of 2019 has peaked the frustration of team members. Luka Modrić, the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner, was quoted as saying “many of us are not at our level. We cannot take a shit at the beginning of every game. We have to be clear, it is not a matter of luck.”
Modrić, who is typically not one of the most outspoken members of Real Madrid, or the footballing world, is absolutely right. Real Madrid does not appear to be at their best when on the field. The team lacks composure, not only in front of the goal, but throughout the field, and even while defending. When watching, you can tell that Real Madrid is not playing with the normal confidence that they have for so many past seasons. Passes are rushed, bad touches are taken. The overarching theme is that mistakes are being made. Now, considering the fact that in 2018, Real Madrid was ranked the second most valuable team in the world, at 4.09 billion dollars, one would think that they would be able to afford players who are not making these mistakes, no?
The answer however, has nothing to do with money. Real Madrid returned a vast majority of its 2018 Champions League winning roster, a star-studded line up, stocked with some of the best, and most expensive, soccer players on the planet. Yet, as we discussed earlier in the article, one did not return. Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus has had a bigger impact on his former club, then his new one. Don’t get me wrong, since his transfer, Ronaldo has been a star for his new Italian club, playing in 24 total games (in Seria A and Champions league), and scoring 15 goals along with 5 assists. But with Juventus benefitting from Ronaldo’s incredibly impressive numbers, Real Madrid is missing the impact that he had for them.
Real Madrid’s troubles have mostly been in front of the net, where Ronaldo used to exert a massive impact. Last season alone, Ronaldo scored 26 goals in La Liga, and another 15 goals in the Champions League. While you cannot simply expect another individual to come right in and pick up where Ronaldo left off, something can, and should be done to fix the void that Cristiano left with his exit. Simply put, it comes down to mentality. Players who have been teammates of Cristiano Ronaldo talk about how he had the highest work ethic of anyone they had ever met. This sort of attitude transitioned to on the field performance. Cristiano’s drive to score goals and help his team is unmatched, which is why Real Madrid are having such trouble replacing it.
The solution is quite clear. Real Madrid no longer has the player that they looked towards these past nine years. So it is time for everyone who is currently on the roster, to step up and help fill the gap. These past nine years, everyone on Real Madrid has thought in the back of their mind that, if necessary, Cristiano Ronaldo will save them from defeat. But he is no longer around. If each member of Real Madrid takes it upon themselves to work hard, help out with the scoring, defending and even the overall morale of the club, they will regain their success. However, if they continue to wallow in their self-pity, they will find themselves falling deeper into a crater of defeats.