I may well be proven wrong come the end of the season, but Real Madrid is a team in danger. Particularly in the Champions League, which Real Madrid has dominated over the last five years.
Currently, they are the fourth favorites to win the Champions League at 15/2. That puts them behind Man City, Barcelona and Liverpool, and equal with Juventus, where their ex talisman Ronaldo plays.
It seems naive to write off the team that has won four of the last five Champions Leagues. Especially after they re-appointed Zinedine Zidane, who delivered the three in a row, as head coach.
However, it is Zidane who will be under scrutiny as he tries to revitalize the aging giants of Real Madrid.
The reality for Zidane is that he has a different job now than the one he took on in 2016. At that time, he had Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema all in their prime. All he had to do was provide the right motivation and let them do their stuff.
His second spell is more of a rebuilding job than a charge towards glory. Madrid are still reeling after losing Cristiano Ronaldo and trying to rediscover their identity.
Questions abound over whether Zidane is the right person to bring through a new generation of Madrid players.
So far, he has gone with what he knows and who he trusts. They opened the La Liga season with a 3 – 1 win over Celta Vigo. However, Luka Modric was sent off.
They disappointingly drew their next game against Real Valladolid 1 – 1. Despite dominating, they succumbed to an 88th minute equalizer just 6 minutes after Benzema put them one up.
Transitioning to a new, younger team will be all the more difficult thanks to Gareth Bale. For all intents and purposes, Bale’s time in Madrid appeared to be over.
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However, after failing to find a new team, Bale is stuck there for another season. Despite his problems with the player, Zidane will have to play Bale. He’s too good to leave out for the entire season. As well as that, if they ever want to sell him, he will have to play enough games to make that feasible.
Eden Hazard may help this transition but for now, Real Madrid is a team that’s neither here nor there.