What do Madrid Have to do to Change Their Torrid Season and Bleak Future?

Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid
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The present and future are in good shape

It's not going very well for Real Madrid this season as the club's struggles continue, just as their neighbours look unstoppable at the top of the La Liga table as Zinedine Zidane's men sit eight points behind Atletico Madrid, who also have a game in hand.

Combine this with the fact that Real squeezed through their Champions League group, just as they lost to third tier Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey before failing to get past Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana, and it's fair to say that it's close to disaster right now for Zidane.

16-year veteran and club captain Sergio Ramos is also reportedly departing in the summer, just as Luka Modric turns 36, whilst the overreliance on a 33-year-old Karim Benzema and hope that Eden Hazard will soon perform will come back to bite them.

In fact, across the board, changes are needed at the Santiago Bernabeu. We take a look at what they need to do.

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They have to prepare for the future

The backbone of Real Madrid’s hugely successful team of recent years are slowly approaching the twilight of their careers, with the likes of Ramos, Modric and Benzema all heading into their mid 30s. While Modric is set to stay for at least another season after agreeing on an extension in December, the likes of Isco and Marco Asensio will need to tap into a higher level of football if they are to replace the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner in the near future.

As for Ramos, it is a seemingly daunting prospect for all concerned at the club that their captain and current longest-serving player, may depart the club when his contract runs out this summer. The Spaniard has been at the club since 2005, and reports have intensified that he may be looking to start a new footballing chapter as he turns 35 in March.

While they do have talented young Brazilian Eder Militao amongst their ranks, Real have also been touted as potential suitors for highly-rated Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, although they are likely to face stiff competition from Bayern Munich after their CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently confirmed the club’s interest. Whether Florentino Perez decides to enter the transfer market remains to be seen, but it is imperative they find a suitable long-term replacement for Ramos.

Cut their losses on Hazard; he is not the next Galactico

Since the departure of the club’s all-time record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo, they have inevitably struggled to find someone as effective in front of goal. Indeed, Benzema has stepped out of the shadow of Ronaldo and since become their chief goalscorer, netting 10 La Liga goals so far this season, although this is far from a great turnover for a club that should be winning the title. However, the demise of Gareth Bale’s career in Madrid, coupled with Hazard’s disastrous move from Chelsea has left the club feeling uncharacteristically thin on superstar quality.

With Benzema turning 34 this year, it is increasingly likely that Madrid may look to the summer as an opportunity to bolster their attack. The club are said to have been long admirers of Tottenham Hotspur's hotshot Harry Kane, who is enjoying one of his best all-round seasons with 20 goals and 14 assists in 30 games so far, and the England captain would certainly fit the profile of a like-for-like replacement for Benzema, who possesses both physicality and technical prowess.

However, as for a longer-term option, there are not many players who would better suit the system than Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland. The 20-year-old has fast become one of the most potent and sought after strikers in the world. His intelligent runs complement his other-worldly speed and technical ability, meaning that the tall Norwegian is notoriously difficult to stop.

22 goals in 21 games so far this season has seen his stock continue to rise, and come the summer there will certainly be a whole host of clubs desperate for his signature. If Madrid are to invest in a new Galactico, then there are few that come close to Haaland in terms of potential.

It's what the club have founded success on, even since the days of the 1950s where Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas took over Spain and Europe. Now, they can't let that historic truth slip and they simply must buy, buy and buy some more, because it's worked for 70 years.


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Will Zidane Survive Past this Season?

With the club now out of the Copa del Rey and with La Liga seemingly impossible to overcome with Atletico's dominance, it is shaping up to be Zidane’s worst season in management. In all competitions, Madrid have clocked eight defeats so far this season, which is heading to be the Frenchman’s worst return ever since he lost nine back in the 2017/18 campaign, as it is expected they will lose some more.

It would seem that Champions League glory could be the only salvation for Zidane, as this is ultimately what kept him in the job ther last time he was at the club, winning three Champions League titles in three seasons and just one La Liga medal.

Atalanta await them in the next round, and although Madrid will be the favourites to advance, the Italians have been one of the most entertaining teams in Europe over the past few seasons, which could certainly spell danger for Los Blancos’ leaky defence.
In a season where financial stability has taken precedence due to the recent renovation on the Santiago Bernabeu, coupled with the club’s reported €355m net debt, it may well be that the only thing keeping Zidane in his role is the slim chance of a 14th European Cup.

By Charlie Rhodes

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