By Jireh Antwi
Real Madrid were arguably the best side of 2017 in world football, winning nearly every trophy available to them including La Liga, the Champions League, Super Cup and the Club World Cup. And when push came to shove, they showed absolute dominance in the Champions league final. Pundits and fans alike knew of their quality and depth, some even stating that what Zidane had done with this 2016/17 team was one of the best in history. It was also a year where we saw Ronaldo win the Ballon d’Or, making him a 5-time winner which now puts him on the same level with Lionel Messi for the record.
In the summer of 2017 you would have thought that they were prepping for another historic run. With Neymar leaving Barcelona, the club seemed to be in turmoil scrambling for his replacement, and at that point things looked even better for Real Madrid. Fast forward to the 13th of January 2018, losing 1-0 to Villarreal and they’re 19 points behind Barcelona sitting 4th and still 8 points behind the third placed Valencia, although they do have a game in hand, but it’s also a reminder that they sit one point above the team they lost against.
The recent Ballon d’Or winner has only netted 4 goals so far in La Liga and 16 goals and 3 assists overall this season compared to his counterpart Messi who has 23 goals and 10 assists overall, scoring 17 alone in La Liga. Real Madrid have already dropped more points this season than they did all of last season; 22 points dropped so far compared to the 21 of their winning season.
This game had plenty of chances for Real Madrid to win. They had 28 shots in total and 7 on target, with 59% possession of the ball and utilising it well, not necessarily at the ‘Los Blancos’ standard but still well enough. Ronaldo missed several opportunities causing someone to compile all of his failed attempts into a comical video. He missed 5 in front of goal opportunities; an unusual event for the calibre of player. Gareth Bale had a header that was ruled offside as well, and was later subbed off for Marco Asensio.
In the 87th minute, a fine counter attack from a Real Madrid corner sealed Villarreal’s win. Pablo Fornals scored a superb goal, chipping it over Keylor Navas which gave them 3 points at the Santiago Bernabéu and left the home team stunned and deflated.
With their Valentine’s Day Champions League Game vs PSG coming up soon, which is sure to be a scintillating game, it could see them really struggle in the first leg. Ronaldo is the leading goal scorer in this competition. Will Real Madrid turn their season around? The pressure is all on Zinedine Zidane right now.
Jireh is a Microbiology and Molecular Biology graduate from the Manchester Metropolitan University. He has a passion for various sports, scientific discovery and trainer brands.