Bale, Modric & Real Madrid's struggling stars

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Despite boasting eight Ballon d'Or nominees in their ranks, the Spanish giants have under-performed across the board in 2018-19

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    #1 Marco Asensio

    With Cristiano Ronaldo out of the picture, 2018-19 should have presented the perfect opportunity for Asensio to step up and become a star at the Bernabeu. 

    The 22-year-old, however, has so far failed to fulfil that promise, netting just once in La Liga during a series of underwhelming showings. 

    Saturday's defeat against Eibar marked a new nadir for Asensio, who was hauled off for Vinicius Junior after 74 ineffectual minutes and with his side trailing by three.

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    #2 Gareth Bale

    Who could forget Bale's stunning overhead kick that set Real Madrid on the way to victory over Liverpool and a third straight Champions League title last May? Unfortunately for the Welshman, Madrid fans have short memories. 

    After a bright start to the season, Bale is now struggling terribly to take command of Real's Ronaldo-less attack, having failed to score in La Liga since September 1.  

    Just like Madrid, Bale has been more impressive in the Champions League but he was attacked by both the supporters and the press for his lack of goals, leadership and – most damningly of all – defensive effort after Saturday's horror show at Eibar.

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    #3 Karim Benzema

    Karim Benzema has been far from the prime culprit for Madrid's malaise this season. 

    Always a ferocious competitor, the Frenchman has stepped up his efforts to lead the Merengue attack following the loss of Ronaldo to Juventus and has been sporadically excellent. 

    At a club like Madrid, however, a scoring rate of nine goals in 18 games – with six of those coming in three blowout wins over the less than formidable Girona, Leganes and Viktoria Plzen – is simply not good enough.

    He simply hasn't stepped up when Real have needed him most, as underlined by his costly failure to take an excellent chance to open the scoring in the embarrassing loss at Eibar.

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    #4 Dani Carvajal

    Like fellow full-back Marcelo, Carvajal's season has been severely affected by injury. 

    The Spain international returned for a cameo off the bench against Eibar after almost two months inactive due to a calf injury and could do nothing to change the course of a humbling defeat. 

    Madrid fans must now hope his fitness worries are behind him and he can regain the form that made him a cornerstone of those three Champions League wins.

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    #5 Thibaut Courtois

    Of the eight Ballon d'Or nominees in Madrid's current squad, Thibaut Courtois is the only man to have earned that place away from the Spanish capital, with his heroics having helped Belgium finish third at the World Cup.

    The former Chelsea goalkeeper, however, has yet to repeat that kind of match-winning form since joining Real from Chelsea during the summer. 

    While admittedly not aided by the chaotic defending in front of him, a record of 18 goals conceded in 10 Liga games is far below what is expected from a Madrid shot-stopper, who can consider himself fortunate to be ahead of Keylor Navas in the pecking order.

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    #6 Isco

    During the glorious tenure of Zinedine Zidane, Isco emerged as one of the Frenchman's favourite players. Zizou even changed his formation in a bid to accommodate the attacking midfielder, who was often included ahead of Bale.

    Now, though, Isco finds himself back on the bench, having failed to start a single game since Solari's arrival as coach.

    Indeed, he has started just eight games in total this season and has not found the net since victory over Roma more than two months ago.

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    #7 Toni Kroos

    You know there's something wrong at Real when even Toni Kroos isn't performing at his brilliant best. 

    The Germany international has been no means bad this season but it is telling that the midfield maestro has yet to rack up a single assist – let alone score a goal – in La Liga this season.

    Casemiro's injury issues certainly haven't helped as Kroos has looked dreadfully uncomfortable in a deeper role but one wonders if Kroos, who has previously admitted that remaining motivated after three Champions League triumphs is tough, is simply in need of a new challenge.

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    #8 Marcelo

    Marcelo has had a nightmare run of injuries since the 2018-19 season kicked off. 

    A succession of muscular problems have restricted Marcelo to just 11 matches for his club, and he was noticeably off-colour and overrun by Eibar at the weekend as he returned for his first game in almost a month.

    Still, when fully fit, there is no better left-back in the world and Marcelo, to his credit, was one of the few Real players to step up to the plate during Julen Lopetegui's short and turbulent tenure.

    Solari will, thus, be hoping that the Brazil ace can get back up to speed very quickly indeed.

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    #9 Mariano

    After a goal-filled season at Lyon, Mariano returned to Real just before the close of the summer transfer window to strengthen an attack severely weakened by the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

    Mariano was confident that his second spell at the Santiago Bernabeu would be more successful than his first, believing that he could help fill the void left by the club's all-time record goalscorer. He even accepted Ronaldo's No.7 shirt.

    But the 25-year-old has enjoyed just one start in all competitions since returning to the Spanish capital and has done little to suggest he deserves more time on the pitch.

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    #10 Luka Modric

    Luka Modric is tipped by many to beat both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the Ballon d'Or in 2018, with his sterling performances during Madrid's Champions League-winning campaign backed up by a heroic run to the World Cup final with Croatia.

    So far in 2018-19, however, the midfielder has been almost unrecognisable from the player who excelled in Russia.

    Usually so assured in the engine room, the 33-year-old looks uncertain and dishevelled in this disorganised Madrid team. 

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    #11 Sergio Ramos

    The recent furore over anti-doping regulations represents another unwelcome distraction for Sergio Ramos, who has performed erratically at the heart of the Madrid defence so far this season.

    A horror show against Barcelona in a 5-1 rout only heightened pressure on the club captain, who presently seems more adept at scoring goals – he has outscored Bale in La Liga by netting four times – than stopping them.

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    #12 Raphael Varane

    A Champions League and World Cup winner in 2018, Raphael Varane had cemented his reputation as one of the world's elite defenders, earning a Ballon d'Or nomination in the process. 

    Performances this season, however, have fallen well short of that mark, with the Frenchman and centre-back partner Ramos looking far from assured in a struggling team. 

    Varane has also been hindered by injury, with a hamstring tear ruling him out for the best part of three weeks in October and November.