Real Madrid: A new era in the reckoning for Los Blancos?
Having won 3 UEFA Champions League titles in 3 years, Real Madrid were at the pinnacle of world football. The biggest setback they suffered before the start of the 2018/19 season was the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo and the subsequent exit of Zinedine Zidane from the managerial role. They were able to appoint Julen Lopetegui as their new gaffer to replace Zidane. It came as a surprise to many when Florentino Perez decided not to make any major signings. He put his faith in the current squad with a few additions in Mariano Diaz and Vinicius Junior.
It all came crashing down when they suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona, who were without their talisman, Lionel Messi. It was a night to forget for Los Blancos fans. The void left by Ronaldo and Zidane was clearly visible.
The aftermath was even more shocking as Perez decided to sack Lopetegui and appoint Santiago Solari as the manager. The season continued with its ups and downs for Real Madrid. Barcelona were cruising to another league title with no real challenge upfront. The nail in the coffin came in the form of a double-elimination within a week in March 2019.
Real Madrid had taken a 2-1 lead away in Amsterdam but suffered a 1-4 defeat in the second leg at the hands of a young Ajax side in the Champions League and were knocked out of the tournament. The Copa del Rey semi-final fixture saw them facing off with Barcelona again. The Blaugrana won 4-1 on aggregate and dumped Real Madrid out of the domestic cup too.
Madrid were simply unable to replace the man who gave them 50+ goals each season. Lacklustre defensive performances added to their worries as they were in dire need of reinforcements.
The new season brought excitement for the fans when Florentino Perez recalled Zinedine Zidane to replace Santiago Solari. This was followed by a raid in the transfer market. A long term transfer target, Eden Hazard, was finally seen in a Madrid jersey.
This signing sparked a sense of hope that the club would rise from the failures of the previous season. Additional transfers include Ferland Mendy from Olympique Lyon, Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt, Eder Militao from FC Porto and Rodrygo Goes from Santos FC. It was a statement that Real Madrid were back in business and weren't going down without a fight. The preseason matches have not yet shown the true potential of these talents but the upcoming season would surely be a better one than last year's.
Another young prospect who would be eager to prove himself is Vinicius Junior. The young talent showed the world what he is capable of and that he is a star in the making. The transfer window will shut on August 31st for the Spanish giants who are now focussed on further reinforcing their midfield.
Will this be another season to forget or will it show the might of Real Madrid as European Kings? Only time will tell us as the new season awaits.