In the immediate aftermath of Real Madrid’s disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Eibar on Sunday, Zinedine Zidane was visibly perplexed by his side’s stuttering run of form that has seen them go four games without a win in all competitions.
“Something is happening,” he repeated on a regular basis to the onlooking reporters.
Pointing out the four problems facing the European Champions is one things. Whether Zidane, who is facing his first crisis as a manager, can fix them them is an completely different question.
Issues of fluidity
Even during Real Madrid’s 16 match unbeaten streak, you could count the number of good performances on one hand. In truth Real have flattered to deceive for a while under Zidane. Beyond some isolated moments of good play, the Frenchman’s side have rarely dazzled in the way that Carlo Ancelotti’s did.
Without Casemiro, Toni Kroos has been forced to drop deep and reign in his creative instincts, while the injury to midfield metronome Luka Modric has also deeply affected Los Blancos’ ability to dictate play from the centre of the park.
A misfiring BBC
Individually and collectively, the attacking trident of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo has failed up to now to spark into life on any consistent basis. Although the best of the bunch so far, Bale has still only scored three goals in eight first-team games this season. Meanwhile Benzema, who is coming under pressure from Alvaro Morata, has struggled to regain his sharpness since his return from injury.
Perhaps most significant, however, is the form of Ronaldo, who has endured his worst ever start to a LaLiga season. As always, Real’s hopes of recovery rest firmly on his shoulders.
With just two clean sheets in ten matches, things are far from rosy in defence either, with Los Merengues regularly shipping avoidable goals. A series of high-profile errors from Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Keylor Navas, amongst others, has meant that at least two goals have been needed in order to take three points from recent games.
With this in mind, and as the BBC are yet to hit top form, Real’s defensive unit simply have to stop presenting opposition attacks with such golden opportunities to score goals.
Injuries taking their toll
Despite being blessed with a large squad packed full of quality on paper, Zidane has learned the hard way that several members of his first-choice team are practically irreplaceable at present.
Whether it be the much-needed graft of Casemiro or the elegant ball-playing ability of Luka Modric, Los Blancos have been unable to plug the gaps left by their extensive list of absentees. Fingers will be firmly crossed at the Bernabeu that some of the wounded return soon.