Sergio Ramos Real Madrid 2017-18

Champs to chumps - Real Madrid’s miserable Liga defence cannot end soon enough

A year ago, Real Madrid were closing in on a first European Cup and La Liga double since 1958. Los Blancos claimed a second successive Champions League crown and, what was even more satisfying for some, a domestic championship to sit alongside it.

But there will be no repeat this time around. While Zinedine Zidane's side remain on course for third straight success in the Champions League, La Liga is long lost and, after another disappointing defeat on Wednesday, the competition cannot end soon enough for Real.

Madrid's spirited showing in Sunday's Clasico clash looked like an ideal tonic ahead of their remaining fixtures and, in particular, the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev later this month.

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However, all the optimism from the hard-fought 2-2 draw at Camp Nou evaporated at the Sanchez Pizjuan. Real lost 3-2 to Sevilla and that result flattered Los Blancos, 3-0 down with a few minutes left and deservedly so after a dreadful display.

It is on nights like this that the side's success is even more difficult to comprehend. How can a team that defends so poorly keep winning Europe's premier club competition? And how did they win La Liga last season?

One significant factor is personnel. Real Madrid's squad is tremendous and many of the second-string players would be starters in some of the world's top teams. Los Blancos boast impressive strength in depth; an embarrassment of riches.

But Real's squad is not as strong this season as it was last. Alvaro Morata was excellent as back-up to Karim Benzema and ended the campaign with more goals than the France forward, while James Rodriguez chipped in with vital assists, goals and some superb performances in games like this one. Both left in the summer.

Pepe's experience in defence has also been missed, while the summer signings – Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo – have hardly featured. In fact, no team in La Liga has used their new recruits so sparingly this term. That says a lot.

Sevilla Real Madrid scoreGoal

Ceballos has plenty of talent, but he looked lost in the melee at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday and, defensively, Madrid were all over the place against a Sevilla side aiming to claim the last Europa League place.

Vallejo, Nacho and Theo were uncomfortable in defence, while Casemiro and Mateo Kovacic failed to provide an adequate shield in front of them and even Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez were ineffective. Without Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Isco, Marcelo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Keylor Navas and more, Real's second string was exposed.

Sevilla strode into a 3-0 lead (with Sergio Ramos missing a penalty at 2-0) and despite last goals from Borja Mayoral and the Madrid captain (who scored from the spot at the second attempt), Zidane's side ended up with what they deserved: nothing.

With two games left, they would have expected to be challenging for the title. Instead, they are 18 points behind Barcelona with the Catalans crowned champions 10 days ago.

Real Madrid may have another Champions League final ahead, but La Liga cannot end soon enough for Los Blancos.