To stick or twist - Zidane left to make hard decision on sub-par squad
The 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo made plain to even the most optimistic of Madridistas that the league title was now no longer within reach, with arch-rivals -Barcelona- going 16 points clear, albeit with a game in hand. But even if that game in hand is taken out of the equation, the league would be lost either way.
The season has turned around in the most unimaginable way possible. From a position of strength back in the summer to a position of dearth in the winter, barely 6 months have passed between the Super Cup and now and how the tides have turned!
The signing of Coutinho by the Catalan giants the day after the game further put the woes Real Madrid are going through in perspective. Despite the fact that it was known to all and sundry that the Brazilian wouldn't be playing in the Champions League, la Blaugrana still strengthened their squad, as it gives them more options for the remainder of the season.
Zinedine Zidane, however, has insisted repeatedly that he's happy with the squad at his disposal each time he's pressed about new signings. He has claimed that he doesn't need to sign new players to salvage what is increasingly looking like a lost season.
On the face of it, this is a squad that has won the Champions League twice in a row, a squad that just ended the 2017 calendar year with 5 trophies, previously unseen at the Bernabeu. So when the key players are winning laurels for their work, so why thither?
Well, what Zidane is failing to see or deliberately wants to be oblivious to is the fact that most of his players are well below their usual best. It's glaringly obvious to even the most untrained of eyes that these players are in a rut, the chief of which is Karim Benzema, his compatriot, who leads the line for Los Blancos.
Meanwhile, in the Ciutat Esportiva over in Catalonia, they're getting stronger from a position of strength. Zidane feels the squad he has can go after the remaining targets for the season, namely the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey.
No player in the Whites' squad has more than 4 goals in the league, and we're in January. While it's scarcely believable, it's the bitter truth. Meanwhile, in the Champions League, where only the best of the best faceoff, you'd be hard-pressed to find a defender who will see Karim Benzema and get the shivers.
Thiago Silva and Marquinhos won't be having any nightmares ahead of their meeting in the round of 16 and this goes to show the level to which the Frenchman has fallen.
Zidane needs to reinforce the team if he's to have a proper pop at gunning PSG down. As it stands, Real Madrid are set for their worst season in years-- a round of 16 elimination in the Champions League, a 4th place finish in the league and if they're paired against Barça or a rejuvenated Atletico Madrid in the Copa Del Rey, you'll be a brave person to back Los Blancos.
Zidane needs to identify this obvious weakness and set the house right. Granted, he has Cristiano Ronaldo at his beckon but Ronaldo can only do so much when he has a wasteful striker for a partner. Benzema shows his quality in fits and spurts, but for a Real Madrid No 9, it needs to be done on a regular basis.
There are positions in the squad that could also do with some fine-tuning and the earlier Zidane acknowledges this, the better.