Seven reasons why Real Madrid are struggling this season

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The Spanish and European champions have dropped 10 points in La Liga already and lost at Girona on Sunday. Here, a look at their problems in 2017-18

Things were supposed to be so different. Real Madrid finished last season by winning La Liga and the Champions League, kicked off the current campaign with two more trophies, the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Supercopa, and thrashed Barcelona in the process to claim the latter.

Los Blancos 10/1 to lose 2-1 to Spurs

Zinedine Zidane's side looked likely to dominate and even Barca defender Gerard Pique admitted for the first time that Los Blancos were superior to the Catalan club in the wake of the Supercopa fallout.

But since then, Barcelona have thrived to top the Primera Division with 28 points out of a possible 30 and Real Madrid find themselves eight behind already - a distance they have never ever made up to win the Primera Division.

So where has it all gone wrong? Here, Goal takes a look at seven reasons behind Madrid's malaise in 2017-18...


A LACK OF ATTITUDE


There has been a sense of apathy around Real Madrid's performances this season and in Girona on Sunday, there was no doubt the home side wanted it more.

It is hard for some sides to get motivated after a lot of success and that appears to be the case with Los Blancos. After winning the two cups at the beginning of this season, there seems to be a lack of appetite.

Great teams win and win and then win again and if Madrid are to do that, they will need to rediscover their hunger soon - even with a "barriga llena" (full stomach).

Marcelo Real Madrid


DEFENSIVE LAPSES


Defensive lapses are nothing really new in this team. Even last season, Real Madrid were prone to mistakes at the back, but such errors are much more of a concern when the team is not scoring so many at the other end.

With a specialist defensive midfielder in Casemiro, Los Blancos really should do better at the back, but have conceded nine goals in 10 game so far in La Liga. By comparison, Barcelona have let in just three and that is partly why the Catalans are so much better off in the table.

Changes in personnel have not helped, but Madrid still give away too many chances at the back. In the Champions League on October 17, for example, Tottenham had 15 attempts on the Real goal - and that was at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Sergio Ramos Real Madrid 2017


INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS


Injuries have definitely taken their toll on Madrid this season and coach Zinedine Zidane has complained about the number of players he has had missing this term.

Gareth Bale, Mateo Kovacic, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal are all sidelined at the moment, while Karim Benzema, Marcelo, Theo Hernandez, Keylor Navas and Jesus Vallejo have all taken time out this term.

In addition, Cristiano Ronaldo was suspended for five matches after pushing the referee in the first Clasico at Camp Nou, while Marcelo and Sergio Ramos have also been banned for needless red cards. With all of those missing at times, it is no wonder Madrid have had difficulties.

Gareth Bale Real Madrid


ISCO IMBALANCE


Isco was just about the only Real Madrid player who earned praise after Sunday's shock defeat in Girona.

The Spain midfielder scored his side's only goal and always sought to create openings for Los Blancos at Montilivi, and many believed he should have been included in the FIFPro XI at FIFA's The Best gala last week.

However, his inclusion in the Madrid XI creates an imbalance. With Isco in the side, Luka Modric's role is sometimes restricted and Madrid lack the pace of a quality wide player like Gareth Bale to stretch defences and make space for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. For all his quality, Isco sometimes slows this team down and often he plays too far away from the opposition area.

So although he has come on in leaps and bounds, Madrid could still utilise him better and coach Zinedine Zidane must ensure Modric is involved as much as possible too.

Isco Real Madrid


NO REPLACEMENTS FOR MORATA & JAMES


Real Madrid did not always play well in 2016-17, but in Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez, Zinedine Zidane had fantastic options on the bench when needed.

Both players were important. Morata scored 20 goals for Los Blancos last season (one more than Karim Benzema) and several of those were late winners, while James netted 12 times and bagged eight assists, despite his reduced role.

Morata, in particular, has been badly missed as Madrid do not have another senior striker in their squad, while Dani Ceballos will take time to reach the level of the Colombian. Pepe, an experienced defender who spent a decade at the club, was also allowed to leave, with no new centre-back brought in and Jesus Vallejo instead promoted to the first-team squad.

Alvaro Morata Chelsea 09092017


RONALDO & BENZEMA AREN'T SCORING ENOUGH


With Gareth Bale out injured and Alvaro Morata no longer at the club, Real Madrid rely heavily upon Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema for goals. But the two forwards have netted only once each in La Liga this season.

Ronaldo has fared better in the Champions League, in which he has converted five times, but his solitary strike in five full Liga games is an uncharacteristic drought and with Benzema misfiring too, Zinedine Zidane's side have struggled more than usual for goals this season.

None of that looked likely as Madrid hit five over two games against Barcelona in the Spanish Supercopa, but the Primera Division has highlighted some deficiencies in the champions' attack and they badly need their forwards to start scoring again soon in the league.

Cristiano Ronaldo Karim Benzema Real Madrid Villarreal La Liga


ZIDANE STILL DOESN'T HAVE A CLEAR SYSTEM


Zinedine Zidane is not without fault, either. The Frenchman has done wonderfully well since succeeding Rafa Benitez in January 2016 and he has won seven trophies already as Real Madrid coach, including back-to-back Champions League crowns and La Liga last season.

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However, Zidane's Real rely far too much upon individuals to win matches and with all the quality the team has in midfield, there is the feeling this side could and should play better football.

There is no real style or philosophy and Madrid still seem to be to set up as a counter-attacking team. When rival sides defend deep, Real often have trouble opening up defences and with all the technical ability in their midfield, they should be breaking down teams more effectively. Tactically, Zidane needs to improve.

Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid

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