Real Madrid: Have The Players Lost Their Hunger?

Real Madrid, Isco (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Isco (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

When Real Madrid were in a bad moment for a stretch of games, and immediately afterward, they went on to defeat Monchengladbach and Atletico Madrid in their two best games of the season, I sort of had this hunch, you could call it, that something is not right fundamentally.

This team lacks hunger until they’re under pressure. This team does not perform as well as it can until they have something to fight for. They were fighting for Zinedine Zidane’s job at this time. They won a bunch of games, which eased the pressure off of Zidane. I felt like, maybe this only goes on for a few games, until it slowly starts to decline; until they look to be in that same situation again. Unfortunately, that’s what looks to be happening. The cycle is repeating.

The problem isn’t that they’re performing well when they’re under pressure. The problem is, they’re performing at their best only when they’re under pressure. Only when they have something to fight for. Sometimes it’s the coach’s job, sometimes it’s their pride. Sometimes it’s both. It’s not good.

Each time Real Madrid are backed into a corner, It’s bittersweet, but also concerning, because that’s when they start playing like they’re supposed to play. They save their manager’s job, and their pride, and then, slowly, and slowly show a decline in the form again, only to repeat the cycle.

Real Madrid have fallen into an interesting pattern

It’s sort of like a loop. Zinedine Zidane is under some pressure right now. After a few draws one after the other, and then a humiliating loss vs Bilbao in the Supercopa. Then, his side hit a new low, losing to Segunda B side Alcoyano, while having most of the first team players in the squad. It was just, bad. I have no words. Then, immediately after, they defeated Alaves like there’s nothing wrong. Just when Zidane had started to feel the pressure. Coincidence?

More from The Real Champs

Now, I’m not saying that nothing is on Zidane, or everything is on the players, or that Zidane doesn’t know the tactical side of things and he depends solely on his players for his job. I love Zidane, I’m really happy that he has won the team I love so many titles, but things like this make me feel pessimistic about the team’s growth and their chances of winning titles. There are so many tactical issues like deciphering low blocks, that to this date haven’t been solved. There are so many other things that I can talk about, but the article isn’t about those things.

Besides, let’s look at the facts here: Real Madrid are now seven points behind Atletico Madrid in the league, who have a game in hand.

They are in the Champions League Round-of-16 and are out of the Copa Del Rey. Am I optimistic about them winning the league? Not really, no. I mean, I do hope so, but it probably won’t happen given how good Atleti have been, and how inconsistent Real Madrid have been.

Now, let’s think about the Champions League: They may go through to the quarters by beating Atalanta (which is already a tough team to beat, although now a little weakened because of the departure of Alejandro Gomez), but realistically speaking, how big of a chance do Real have if and when they’re up against teams like Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City?

At their absolute best, they might. Might. Mind you, “at their absolute best” means Hazard performs like he was at Chelsea; Mendy and Courtois perform like they did last season and the rest of the team performs as they did in the three-peat era. That’s almost impossible. What hasn’t happened in so long certainly won’t happen now. But, we are talking hypothetically, so yes, only then this team has a slight chance of defeating the best teams in the world.

This ‘fire’ that would motivate them to beat the top teams like they used to? It won’t come out from their manager being under pressure or when their pride is on the line. That will only happen when these players are consistently performing well and consistently getting the results. My question is this: Why wait for things to go wrong, though? Why not just perform at your best anyway?

Next. Real Madrid should stop the Kylian Mbappe chase. dark

Now, maybe the cycle would repeat; maybe the players would fight for the man in charge once again, because of the respect that they have for him. Maybe not, maybe this is something from which the team doesn’t recover for a little while. Maybe the players have had enough. Maybe Zidane will do something different.

We don’t know. Either way, it’s not looking good for anyone remotely linked to Real Madrid. Not for the players, not for the board, not for the coach, and not for the fans. Even after the win against Huesca. All’s not well at the Spanish capital. At least, in one half of it.