5 reasons why Real Madrid are struggling in La Liga
Six games into the 2017/18 La Liga season and Real Madrid find themselves in a spot of bother. The defending champions are down in fifth place and are already seven points behind league leaders Barcelona who have a perfect record so far having won all their games.
After mauling Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup, fans expected Los Blancos to stroll to the league title yet again. But Zinedine Zidane's side has been far from their best this campaign. Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and even Valencia have a better record thus far.
So why exactly are Real struggling? Why is Zizou unable to weave his magic?
1) Cristiano Ronaldo's poor league form
Although he destroyed Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup, the sending off saw him lose his cool which led to a five-game ban (including the second leg). The Portuguese star was only allowed to put on the white shirt for Real's fifth and sixth game in La Liga as a result.
While he grabbed a brace in the Champions League and increased his tally of goals in the competition, APOEL Nicosia (Cyprus) are hardly a top quality team to keep him out. In two games, he has failed to find the back of the net against Real Betis and Alaves.
Of course, it is harsh to single out Ronaldo for not scoring in "just two games". But the bone of contention here is the number of shots on goal. Over 180 minutes, the 32-year-old had 18 shots: 13 shots in the penalty area with two coming inside the six-yard box.
In the absence of the injured Karim Benzema, Ronaldo has been deployed as a centre-forward of sorts but he still has a knack of drifting to the left.
This also had a knock-on effect with Marco Asensio playing wider than normal to accommodate Ronaldo's movements and provide him with space to work with.