It has been a great start to the season for Real Madrid. The Spanish giants are on course of ending a four-year drought of the La Liga title with a healthy six point lead over Barcelona, as they prepare for the Club World Cup in Japan. Zinedine Zidane has completely transformed a side which was looking out of sorts just over a year ago. Since taking charge from Rafael Benitez, Zizou has won the Champions League with Real Madrid. Moreover, his side is on a 35 match unbeaten run in all competitions.
Not only in the league, Real Madrid are also looking good in the Champions League this season. They are in the round of 16 of the Europe’s elite tournament, where they face Napoli in February and March. With all due respect to Napoli, Madrid have successfully avoided the likes of Arsenal and Juventus. They are heavy favourites to make it through to the quarters of the Champions League. But as things are going good for them, fans and media alike are worried about the future of the club.
Just a couple of seasons earlier, in 2014-15, Madrid were four points clear of Barcelona at New Year. They won the Club World Cup, held in Morocco, beating Argentina’s San Lorenzo 2-0 in the final. Under Carlo Ancelotti, Madrid went on to win a staggering 22 games in a row, just two shy of the record held by Brazilian side Coritiba. But things changed after they returned from the Club World Cup.
After their return, Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Valencia, which ended their winning streak. And then injuries to key players such as Modric, Ramos, Bale, Benzema and Marcelo didn’t help in the run, as they succumbed to a 4-0 loss to their fierce rivals Atletico Madrid just a month later. Within two months of their return from Morocco, Madrid slipped to the second spot, losing three and drawing a game in the process. Ancelotti was highly criticised of not rotating the squad much, resulting in injuries to important players. As a result, the all-whites failed to win a single trophy that season.
Madrid again find themselves in a similar situation this season. However, Zidane has handled the squad well. Without the injured Bale, Kroos and Morata, the Blancos came out with a 1-1 draw with Barcelona. The fact that Madrid are at home to Granada after their return from Japan is surely a better fixture. Still Zidane will be vary of the past, and will have to make the necessary decisions if they are to win the league this season.