Real Madrid crisis: one resolution
Domestically, the 2017/18 campaign for Los Blancos can be summarised in one word: disastrous. Real Madrid find themselves in fourth place, 19 points behind their Catalan rivals. Now it's knocked out of the Copa Del Rey by minnow Leganes. Zinedine Zidane is easily at the lowest point in his short, yet ridiculously successful managerial career.
Out with the old, in with... nothing?
Alvaro Morata was first out the door last summer. Next Danilo. Two excellent squad players who provided much needed depth and were superb when they did play. Additionally, James Rodriguez is on loan to Bayern, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, and Mariano Diaz have moved on. Younger players have been promoted but the two signings made were aged 19 and 20. There were no established talents to make up for those lost. By its own hand Real Madrid has weakened.
Los Blancos should have kept Morata and Danilo, then also bought Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos. With Ronaldo and Benzema over 30, there appears to be no plan B. With the entire BBC line combining for just 14 goals, an alternative frontman is needed.
La Liga woes
Only once in the past fifteen years has Real Madrid finished outside of the top three. They sit fourth now, five points behind Valencia, just a single point ahead of Villarreal. Real Madrid’s top players have put on a poor showing in defending their first crown in five years.
Discipline is especially problematic. The Merengues have received 4 red cards and lost 4. They’ve also been particularly profligate in front of goal. They average almost 20 shots per game while only scoring two.
Despite his injuries Gareth Bale among the few bright spots in an otherwise dour campaign. The Welshman has six goals and an assist in 650 minutes.
Madrid's refuge this season has been continental cup competitions. It claimed both the Super Cup and Club World Cup. Although surprisingly beaten to the top of its Champions League group by Tottenham, Real still progressed to the knockout stages. The side hasn't been consistent, but definitely more dangerous. While he has only six goals in 15 Primera Division matches, Cristiano Ronaldo has nine in a half-dozen Champions League tilts. The test will be whether that continues when the squad comes up against Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.
Solution: retain the Champions League
Zidane has already accomplished the unprecedented by retaining the Champions League title in its current format. Great managers win the Champions League. Fantastic ones win it twice. The Algerian-born Frenchman has already equalled Pep Guardiola, Vicente Del Bosque, Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and Bayern’s Jupp Heynckes. Now he must match Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti.
It is the only way he can go into the summer employed. Considering the ruthlessness of Florentino Perez, he’s lucky to be in a job now.
The first step is overcoming PSG. February will also see six Liga games. Even with the title gone, Zizou can't really afford to lose any. It will be quite the busy month for the suddenly beleaguered boss.