It has been just 60 days since Real Madrid lifted the Champions League for the third consecutive year and it’s fair to say the team has undergone a massive transformation and will continue to do so before the season begins. The man who led them to the title in Europe’s grandest club competition for three seasons running, Zinedine Zidane, has left his post, as has talismanic forward, Cristiano Ronaldo. While the former has taken a technical position in Juventus as a break from management, the latter has joined the same club in a £99.2million transfer. Ronaldo’s transfer shocked the footballing fraternity as well Madrid fans and former players, who clamped down on the board for letting their best player in recent times go as easily as they did. The Portuguese captain, however, claimed it to be a decision he made as he wanted to explore new challenges in what could be his final few years in professional football.
Julian Lopetegui has been roped in to take over the reins as manager, while Real still seem to be searching for a replacement for Ronaldo, which could be an extremely tasking job because, after all, we are talking about one of the greatest of all time. Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe are rumored to be Real’s targets, especially after reports came out that both the youngsters get into arguments repeatedly in the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) locker room. But whether Neymar, who became a star and nailed down a third-place finish in the FIFA Ballon d'Or battle while playing for Real’s arch-rivals, Barcelona, in 2014-15, before leaving the club in 2017, will think twice about going to the club from Madrid, though it could provide him with the big break he needs after a shortened season in 2017-18 due to injury and a disappointing World Cup campaign. Mbappe, a World Cup winner with France in Russia, has claimed that he plans to stay, but time and again, we have seen players who change their minds midway through the transfer window. In addition, PSG, even with all their firepower, have never looked like potential Champions League winners and have often crumbled under the pressure of teams such as Barcelona and Real. If both players do want to add a Champions League winners’ medal to their trophy shelves, moving to Madrid might just turn out to be an ideal choice.
However, assuming Real is unable to make a big-money purchase, though it is very unlikely, Lopetegui is sure to provide them with some solidity and quality attacking moves. Real could line-up in a 4-4-2 formation. Keylor Navas could start in goal, with Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo in defence. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric could pull the strings in central midfield, while Isco and Marco Asensio can start on the wings. Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale could play as the strikers. But, even with this line-up, problems remain aplenty. Benzema was largely poor upfront last season and it almost seemed like he started only because Real lacked options.