During August 2016, after being comprehensively beaten by Real Madrid , Barcelona’s Gerard Pique was minded to suggest that for the first time ever he felt that Los Blancos were superior, however, here were are just five months later and the Catalans are 16 points ahead, leaving everyone wondering where it’s all gone wrong.
What was a steamroller of a Madrid side has now become an imperfect and easily beatable XI.
In the offices of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, an explanation has been sought for weeks, but there is no single reason.
Five keys to Real’s slump
1- Loss of solidarity
The players, well at least some of them, have stopped thinking about the group.
With their renewals sorted, the team has been relegated to the background, and in Vigo there were gestures and looks at each other because of various failings.
Cristiano Ronaldo made his feelings clear but these gestures are not healthy for any team.
The club are insisting on the need to recover the team spirit, something that they consider indispensable to be able to successfully settle the tie against the PSG.
It’s been key in the recent successes but has been lost.
Without team play, there are no collective successes and even less individual ones.
2- Lack of success in front of goal
Last season, after 17 games played by Real Madrid, Zidane’s team had 40 points, with 47 goals in favour and 18 against.
In this campaign Real are on 32 points with 32 goals scored and 16 conceded, therefore, the team has lost effectiveness.
Both in the European and Spanish Super Cups, Real only needed half an opportunity to score.
That was clear with the two titles won against Manchester United and Barcelona, the latter after conceding five goals.
3- Physical slump
It is striking that the physical performance is not as expected, nor comes close to it.
There are players who are far from their best form, either because of the injuries they have suffered, because they have not reached the minimum level required or because they think about the World Cup and are preserving themselves for the end of the season.
The Pintus method is clearly not working.
An immediate response was expected at the beginning of 2018, but at the moment there is no sign of it.
4- Different distribution of minutes in the summer and now
A lot of players like Asensio or Lucas Vazquez were used in the Spanish Super Cup, especially in the second leg played in the Bernabeu.
In El Clasico both disappeared but another player who was decisive, Kovacic, also went missing in the league clash.
5- Lack of ambition and goalkeeper confusion
The team don’t appear to have the faith and confidence in Zidane that they had before.
Some believe that they have their position assured in the key matches and that leads to them not trying as hard.
That they are somehow untouchable, without actually being so.
The titles and successes are confusing them and there has been a lack of a voice to bring them back down a peg or two.
Further, Keylor Navas has been good in recent weeks, but it’s true that everything said about Kepa is undermining the Costa Rican goalkeeper and his great relationship with the squad.