Real Madrid: The cause of the crisis at the Santiago Bernabeu
Three Champions League titles in a row and the only team to successfully defend the UCL title in the modern era are just icing on the cake for the long list of records they hold in the competition. Due to this astounding run in football's most prestigious competition, this Real Madrid side will be noted down in history as one of the best team of the generation.
But all in sudden they are struggling to finish within top 4 in the league, and now, an early round of 16 elimination from champions league against an inexperienced Ajax side. What's happening at Bernabeu? Who is responsible for the situation? Players? Managers or management?
Let's highlight some key factor behind this.
#1 Ronaldo departure
Whether you are a supporter of Ronaldo or Messi, you have to admit that the departure of the Portuguese maestro has had a core impact on the Los Blancos side.
Ronaldo played a massive part in Real Madrid's success over the last ten years, with the winger tearing the defences of opponents in Europe to pieces every season. When he is not scoring, his presence on the pitch is enough to inspire his team to glory. It makes him one of the most feared superstars on the planet. The five-times Ballon d'Or winner won a lot for the Los Blancos side including 4 Champions League title, 2 League titles, 2 Copa del Rey and 3 Club World Cups.
According to Dutch legend, Ruud Gullit, "Zidane was clever enough to get out of there on time when they lost Ronaldo. That's the whole point and whoever comes after that has a difficult task. You have no Ronaldo. That's 50 goals you don't have."
You can't find an immediate replacement of such an elite player who is a leader on the pitch, an inspiring figure for his teammates. It's visible that the Los Blancos side is suffering a lot in the absence of Portuguese maestro Cristiano Ronaldo.
#2 Laughable Managerial Appointments
The lack of a strong enough figurehead at Real Madrid has resulted in the players being more or less distracted. The club has very high standards, and those who survive this trial by fire go on to establish themselves as one of the best in the world for any job.
The appointment of Julen Lopetegui, followed by Santiago Solari, has undoubtedly hit the lows at Los Blancos. Both managers have neither a strong track record nor the character to lead such an elite club. If you look at the previous appointments at the club, you will observe that the tactic notes in Madrid's dugout are prepared by the strong personalities of European football with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, and Carlo Ancelotti.
Only Zidane was an exception in the list of the previous appointments without a track record, and his philosophy worked due to his excellent man management and also because of his elite status as one of the finest players of his generation under whom everyone wants to learn. Also, remember the history pays scant regard to luck.
So the appointments of Lopetegui and Solari are nowhere near the expected elite standards and that's why they are suffering. They need a strong character to guide them through the dugout.
#3 Dipped form of key players
Five years ago voted as the worst signing of La Liga and now voted as the best player in the world. The Croatian playmaker, Luka Modrić is now a Ballon d'Or winner. After a decent performance in World Cup 2018, where he won the Best player of the tournament award, Real Madrid fans expected that Modric could fill the wounds of Ronaldo's departure, but he hasn't produced any significant glimpses of his last season's remark.
Also, the likes of Asensio, Kroos, Marcelo, and Casemiro are nowhere near to the match of their status. After the departure of Ronaldo, someone could have been taken the responsibility to lead the team, and until now there is no one. If this remains the same, we might see the Champions League without Real Madrid.
#4 Victim of their own success
World football has changed so much in recent years. Nowadays most of the teams have the resources to compete at the top level because of the high TV revenues, massive kit deals, more substantial sponsorship, advanced training facilities, and wealthy owners. So defending the European title for three years in a row against the European giants Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich, and PSG is a massive achievement.
The poor form of Real Madrid is perhaps a natural consequence of winning so much. They won 3 consecutive Champions League, and now they lack the desire to win another one which also has an impact on their domestic season. The same happened with Spain National team, who won their 3 consecutive international titles in a span of 6 years until 2012 and eliminated early from World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016. In short, both are the victims of their own success.
#5 The culture of signing the Galacticos hurting the team
Real Madrid President Florentino Perez adopted the Galacticos policy during his first tenure with Los Blancos side, and it's still under the engine of the club. The term itself carries both positive and negative meanings. Initially, it was referred to the signing of expensive superstar players and building the world-class team under them, but later the term attracted negative connotation because of the media perception that the policy at Real had failed to deliver expected levels of success.
The likes of Kaylor Navas who was Madrid's No.1 choice for the last 4 seasons that won 3 consecutive Champions league with the club is now a bench warmer due to the arrival of Galacticos signing Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea. The Belgian is not delivering what is needed on the pitch, and yet he is picked every week above Navas.
Under Zidane, for three years there were no Galacticos signing, and club worked smoothly he kept faith on youth players who performed accordingly. Zidane has installed his philosophy deep into the club in his short tenure as manager. After Zidane left, club president Florentino Perez again hinted for Galacticos signing, which will cost them a fortune.