Ff their performance after two league games is anything to go by, Real Madrid have a long season ahead.
Los Blancos played a dull goalless draw against Real Sociedad in La Liga last week, and laboured to a 3-2 win over Real Betis on Saturday. The fact that they needed a late penalty to beat a 10-man Betis side shows all is not well at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Madrid are yet to make any major signings in the transfer window, but have already let go of some first-team players, leaving the squad without depth.
Interestingly, none of these players have yet been replaced. And yet, ahead of the Betis game, Zinedine Zidane held that he was happy with his squad.
Asked if he needed reinforcements to compete this season, the Frenchman answered with an emphatic "No”.
“We spoke about this before. I'm happy with the squad that I've got. We are what we are, and we're going to try to have a successful season,” he said.
However, the squad that travelled for the Betis game said the complete opposite. The starting line-up had Martin Odegaard and Luka Jovic in it, two players who hitherto were only good for the bench and a loan move, respectively.
Little wonder, then, that Betis took the game to the Merengue, and nearly snatched a famous draw at home.
Zidane’s men, however, managed to draw level, thanks to an own goal from Barcelona-owned Emerson. It went from bad to worse for the Barca youngster as he was red-carded in the 67th minutes, handing Real Madrid the numerical advantage.
Real Madrid’s lack of depth and quality on the bench, though, was highlighted as the game progressed. Desperately in need of a win, Zidane looked to his bench and brought on Luka Modric, Isco and Borja Mayoral.
Imagine if this was a game against Barcelona or a midweek Champions League game against Juventus. Bar Modric, these are not substitutes that can change a game.
Fortunately, though, Real Madrid were handed some respite when Sergio Ramos scored from a penalty with just eight minutes to go to secure the win.
But it is evident that this Real Madrid squad needs to be augmented if they are to challenge for La Liga and in Europe. Zidane may have said he is happy with his squad, but the Frenchman should be worried. A long season lies in wait.Published 27 Sep 2020, 16:05 IST