Even the most hardcore Real Madrid fans would agree that their beloved club has entered a bit of a slump since the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo. Since 2018, the club has had very little to show in terms of silverware.
But coming into the 2021-22 season, the Spanish giants seemed to be worse than they were last season. In a span of a few months, Los Blancos have lost their coach Zinedine Zidane and star defender Sergio Ramos. Soon after, they also let Raphael Varane go to Manchester United, meaning they will be without their half-a-decade long centre-back pairing for the next season.
However, financially they have been doing just fine, as Real Madrid posted a profit in the COVID-rampaged season, when most Spanish clubs, most infamously FC Barcelona, have been grappling to keep the club afloat.
Meanwhile, fanatic actions from their president Florentino Perez hasn’t helped either as they have been at the receiving end of a lot of heat from UEFA, the European football governing body, and La Liga itself.
Delving deep into their squad strength
During the hattrick of UEFA Champions League hauls, Real Madrid boosted an incredible squad depth, as players like James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale often failed to break into their starting lineup.
But incoming manager Carlo Ancelotti will not have those strengths at his disposal. Regularly plagued by injuries, the Los Blancos squad is has turned considerably thin.
With the exit of Ramos and Varane, new signing David Alaba and Eder Militao are likely to form the centre-back pairing. Alaba, at FC Bayern Munich, rarely played at the centre-back spot and it’s not a role that he particularly enjoys. However, for the capital city club, he is the answer to their defensive problems.
At left-back, while Ferland Mendy is a solid first choice, tagging behind him will be new club captain Marcelo Vieira. The veteran fullback is currently nearing the fag end of his career and hasn’t displayed the finest vein of form.
In the midfield, Real Madrid has depended on Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for half a decade now but the trio has clearly been overplayed in the last few seasons owing to lack of options.
Situations haven’t changed much this season either. As of now, Madrid doesn’t have a backup for Casemiro and his destroying abilities. Neither do they have one for Kroos. Although the Spanish club touts 21-year-old Antonio Blanco to break into the first team this season and fill a lot of boots.
In attack, the situation is slimmer, as although options might seem plentiful, none of Madrid’s forwards, except Karim Benzema, seem to be finding their shooting boots. Eden Hazard, who was expected to be the club’s shining star, has been struggling with injury and weight issues since he joined Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Luka Jovic failed to impress former coach Zidane and has since been acting as a fringe player. In the pre-season friendliness, the Serbian hasn’t been the sharpest and Madrid might yet again have to pin on their hopes on Frenchman Benzema. Gareth Bale has also returned from his loan spell at Tottenham. The Welsh winger has had his own struggles with regular injuries but looked sharp in the friendly. If he can find a way to stay fit, Bale could answer a lot of Real Madrid’s questions in the attack.
Predicted finish: Second
Based on their current squad strength, it’s highly unlikely to think that Real Madrid can outdo their neighbours Atletico Madrid in La Liga. Rumours have been doing rounds their Los Blancos are after PSG forward Kylian Mbappe and his signature. If they can somehow land the French starlet, things could start improving for Madrid, however, the immense hole in their defensive strength is one area that will still need some attending to.