On January 22nd, Eduardo Camavinga turned in a Man of the Match performance against Athletic Bilbao.
His showing was a wonderful thing. The young Frenchman was everywhere defensively, flying into tackles, cutting passing lanes, and progressing the ball forward. It was perhaps his biggest performance in a Madrid shirt so far, proof that the young midfielder — who'd spent nearly a month at left-back for France at the World Cup — could indeed be a world-class no.6.
And for Madrid, that's a good thing. Midfield depth, especially at the no.6, is absolutely crucial for any successful team; especially those that play some sort of 4-3-3.
But that game also featured an unfamiliar sight. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric started the game on the bench, with Dani Ceballos and Fede Valverde lining up either side of Camavinga. It was, admittedly, a trio forced together by need, with Madrid dealing with a litany of injuries. Still, Real were poor that day, relying on Camavinga and a rejuvenated Dani Ceballos to grab three vital La Liga points.
In years past, Kroos and Modric have played nearly every game, providing control when Madrid struggle. In recent weeks, though, the duo has taken a step back, and the Blancos have started to evolve. It's inevitable, of course. Madrid are getting older, and turnover is necessary, regardless of the quality of the aging players. But the drop off in performance since the World Cup has been alarming.
So, why, exactly has it all happened? And, more importantly, where do Madrid go from here? GOAL takes a look...