A failed Champions League campaign

08 Aug 2020

Florentino Perez didn’t beat around the bush when speaking to the media after Real Madrid lifted the league trophy in July, stating that signings such as that of Kylian Mbappe will have to wait. The president explained that the financial situation in these times of coronavirus is bad and that it’s difficult to tell a player that they’re going to get a wage cut before making a big signing.

Having seen Real Madrid‘s performance in the Champions League, though, questions have been asked about whether Los Blancos should try to strengthen the squad that snatched the LaLiga Santander title from Barcelona and Lionel Messi, but who were way off the mark in Europe. This doesn’t only concern the return leg at the Etihad. The season started with a loss in Paris, followed by a snooze-fest against Club Brugge. In the third matchday Zidane arrived in Istanbul under a lot of pressure, but his side managed to win there and earned a draw against Paris Saint Germain as they finished second in the group.

The knockout tie against Manchester City revealed the shortcomings of a team that is way off the mark in the Champions League. This is the second year in a row that they’ve bowed out at the last 16 stage, having reached the semi-final in every previous season since 2010/11. There are a lot of factors, but the lack of goals since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo is the most significant, even if they can get away with it against weaker opponents in LaLiga. The absence of players with European pedigree and with values over 100 million euros is also a problem. Eden Hazard was brought in for these kinds of games, but he’ll have to wait until next year to make his mark. Sergio Ramos is also the kind of player who can make the difference on nights like this, but had to watch on from the stands.

With Zidane you never know, because he’s already worked miracles by revitalizing a struggling team and guiding them to Supercopa de Espana and LaLiga Santander glory. However, there is still the feeling that this team needs the kind of big push that you can only get from the top players. The revolution didn’t materialise last season, mainly due to some unconvincing signings. It doesn’t seem that there will be any big changes coming into the new campaign either, due to the difficult economic situation and an extremely complicated transfer market. This Real Madrid team needs dominating players, though. Kevin de Bruyne was the difference on Friday and there was no one anywhere near his level in the Real Madrid ranks.

Mbappe won’t happen this season, but he isn’t the only top player out there and Real Madrid need to move to elevate themselves to that kind of level if they want to dominate in Europe again. What they’ve been doing in the Champions League up to now just hasn’t been good enough.

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Karim Benzema 21 Goals Real Madrid
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