The Champions League and LaLiga title holders are struggling this season and after crashing out of the Spanish Cup on the hand of Leganes, Zidane’s job became seriously threatened, especially if he does not win the Champions League.
Zidane has won the Champions League in his previous two and only seasons managing the club. However, winning the Champions League is never a simple task, especially considering his side’s form this season.
Real Madrid are out of the Copa del Rey and have a mission impossible to retain LaLiga title as they trail arch rivals Barcelona by 19 points. In the Champions League however, the Spanish Giants have endured success in recent years, winning the competition in three out of its last four editions.
WHY ARE REAL MADRID STRUGGLING THIS SEASON?
1- AGING STARS
If you consider 8 out of Real Madrid’s starting 11 players, which are Navas (31), Marcelo (29), Ramos (31), Ronaldo (33), Modric (32), Kroos (28), Benzema (30) and Bale (28), they have an average age of 30.25 between them. These are the best players in the world and they won two successful Champions League titles in a row, which no other side has been able to achieve and you do not change a winning team, but these stars are growing older and putting more effort and they are the reason the performance of the team is not the same as they don’t have the same stamina they used to have.
2- WEAK BENCH
Yes, Zidane is rotating to give his aging players a well-deserved rest. This is why Real crashed out of La Copa against Leganes. Achraf (19), Vallejo (21), Ceballos (21), Llorente (22), Theo (20), Mayoral (20), have an average age of 20.5 between them. The inexperienced bench cannot step forward and confidently win games for Real Madrid. They probably have a bright future ahead, and the oldest between them (Llorente) has proved that he is not in Real Madrid’s level and probably won’t be there for a long time.
The 4-3-1-2 formation clearly is not working but Zidane insists on it in order to put Isco in the starting lineup. This formation is not working with Ronaldo and now that the BBC are back, he has to get back to the 4-3-3 and play Isco in the middle. The 4-3-3 has given as still gives the team width in their play that opponents struggle to defend against and more dangerous chances are created that way. It proved useful switching to 4-3-3 in the 7-1 win against Deportivo.
4- MEDICAL TEAM
Seriously, it has been years! What is wrong with Real Madrid’s medical team?!! The BBC played last weekend for the first time together since April 2017 due to injuries. Gareth Bale spent more time on the sidelines than in the stadium. Kovacic, Varane and Vallejo have also struggled a lot with injuries. Ramos, Benzema, Carvajal and others spent some time injured recently as well.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION FOR MADRID?
Sacking Zidane will not be the solution for Real Madrid, with the only logical replacement now being Ancelotti and maybe Joachim Low in the summer. Anyway, with all the success he brought and all the history he has with the club, he should be shown some loyalty and given another chance.
However, Madrid have got to act in the transfer market! 2 or 3 new players would save the situation in the Spanish capital. It should be time to let go of Ronaldo and Benzema despite all what they did to the club in recent years. In midfield, it is very hard to take off Modric so it is possible that Isco replaces Kroos in the starting lineup. A new goalkeeper is now obviously a need for Los Blancos as neither Navas nor Casilla is showing consistency in his performances.
Options for Real Madrid: Neymar or Hazard for Ronaldo, Harry Kane or Cavani for Benzema, Isco for Kroos would also allow Kovacic to play more and rotate with the aging Modric. Ramos, Marcelo and Modric would be the experienced players in the squad along with Bale in 1 or 2 seasons and with young talented fresh players they can get back to the top
Real Madrid face Paris Saint Germain in the UEFA Champions League Last 16 knockout stage. The first game will be played in the Santiago Bernabeu on February 14, and Zidane has to be ready for that game if he hopes to remain in the club next season.