Real Madrid news: Los Blancos on red alert


Z​inedine Zidane has been trying to put his finger on the cause of his team’s poor run this season, but, after Sunday’s disappointing result at Celta Vigo, Real Madrid are on red alert.

The Frenchman has long attributed a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal as the primary reason for the slump, however, having once again come unstuck at the Estadio Balaidos, he recognised that there is more to worry about than just profligacy in the final third.

“I have to detect what the problem is,” he said.

There are a number of issues to look at which can explain why Los Blancos trail Barcelona by 16 points in LaLiga.

They are suffering from defensive insecurity all over the pitch; whether it’s the midfielders not containing, forwards not pressing or the four defenders at the back, the whole team has been unable to stop the rot which was exacerbated by the ‘El Clasico’ defeat.

At the weekend, every time Celta Vigo broke with the ball at pace, they created a clear chance and Real simply could not cope with their counter-attacking – they have now conceded five goals in the last two LaLiga games, which tells you all you need to know about their defensive woes.

They are also failing to kill games off.

Bale

After a Gareth Bale brace put them in the lead against Celta, all they had to do was control the game, keep the opposition at bay and secure the three points, but they couldn’t and nearly ended up losing.

Clearly evident in the second half was the poor physical condition of the players, something which ‘Zizou’ denies.

Not long ago, Real Madrid could fall back on a surprise factor to destroy defences – not BBC (Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo), not the midfielders or even centre-backs at set pieces, but their full-backs Dani Carvajal and Marcelo.

That has been far from the case this season however as Carvajal has been off the pace partly due to injury, while Marcelo has been woeful.

On top of his usual defensive weaknesses, the Brazilian left-back has offered absolutely nothing going forward.

Ronaldo

Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s statistics speak for themselves: 13 matches, 1,156 minutes and only four goals.

No sign of the striker that averages a goal a game, of the player who scares defences with his presence alone, of the man whose quality decides game after game even when Real are not at their best.

It is hard to keep count of the number of points lost by his disappearing act this season, especially when you consider that, without being the best in LaLiga, he had already scored 12 goals in 13 games at this stage last year.

It doesn’t help that the Portuguese forward has not found much in the way of support from Benzema or anyone else for that matter – in 17 matches, no player has managed five goals.

Midfield

In terms of the midfield, until recently nobody would have argued with you if you said Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were the most complete trio in Europe.

After two years, eight titles and two Champions League trophies later, they are all well below their best and seem to be unable to either control games or stop their opponents from breaking.

If this midfield three can recover their best form though, they are the key to a revival.

Last season, the contribution both from the bench and Zinedine Zidane’s tactics was significant as the coach transformed many a game late on with his tactical changes, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez chipping in with a number of important goals.

Now though, both those attackers and the lesser but still significant contributors like Pepe, Danilo and Mariano have all left causing even Ronaldo to admit that the squad was worse than last year.

The numbers certainly back that assertion up.

Other objectives

Also, not only have there been few occasions when Zidane has positively affected a game with his changes, but he also seems to be taking longer to make any decision, something which was particularly apparent against Celta.

The huge gap between Real and Barcelona means that Madrid must set other objectives – thinking about the title is fanciful even for the most optimistic of fans, but, the team cannot throw the towel in and risk not qualifying for the Champions League.

Right now, Los Blancos sit fourth and are 16 points behind Barcelona, seven behind Atletico Madrid and trail Valencia by five.

Falling to fifth place would be catastrophic, but thankfully the club is saved by the inconsistency of the chasing pack, including Sevilla and Villarreal.

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