Ten reasons why Real Madrid's team is the worst in recent history

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Los Blancos have endured a desperately poor campaign in 2018-19 and it is hard to believe the same team were an all-conquering force just a season ago

The 2018-19 campaign has been a disastrous one for Real Madrid thus far, following three years of relative stability - and undoubted success - under Zinedine Zidane.

As they limp on into the new year in the hope of improvement, with the help of Opta, Goal takes a look at why this team is the worst Los Blancos outfit in recent history.

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    #1 They're bereft of Ronaldo & his otherworldly ability

    It may be tempting to buy into the idea that a team of Real Madrid's immense stature shouldn't feel the departure of a single player, but Cristiano Ronaldo was no ordinary player. The 33-year-old's transfer to Juventus ahead of the season was a thundering blow to Los Blancos, perhaps most aptly summed up by Julen Lopetegui's father, who reckoned that the Madrid hierarchy "stole 50 goals" from his son in selling the Portuguese.

    Of course, it's not just goals that Ronaldo brought to the capital club; he exuded an aura of invincibility that inspired belief in the entire team. They're now bereft of that otherworldly presence and a poorer team because of it.

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    #2 They're scoring fewer goals

    The absence of Ronaldo feeds nicely into the fact that Madrid are scoring fewer goals this season than they have in previous campaigns. They averaged 2.39 goals per game in all competitions last term, but, at the time of writing, they were just about averaging 2 goals a game. They managed a total of 68 goals at this point last season and the season before that, they had racked up 86 strikes in the same time. The 2014-15 team scored 93 goals by mid January. This season they've only been able to muster 60.
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    #3 Fewer shots on target

    It is a lot more difficult to score when you don't shoot and Real Madrid have suffered as a result of their apparent unwillingness to have a go at goal. They have attempted 536 shots this season so far, which is lower than the number they posted at the same point in the past two seasons (2017-18: 602, 2016-17: 547). However, the worst part is their accuracy, which, with just 203 attempts hitting the target, is the lowest number they've managed in five seasons.
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    #4 They're conceding more goals

    Not only is this Real Madrid team struggling to hit the back of the net, they are struggling to keep them out at the other end as well, which is all the more surprising given Thibaut Courtois' summer arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid have conceded 35 goals in 30 games in all competitions, five more than they conceded over the course of 32 games in 2017-18.
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    #5 Lopetegui was the wrong choice

    The seeds of Real Madrid's desperately poor campaign were planted during the World Cup when they announced the appointment of Julen Lopetegui to the surprise of the Spanish football association (RFEF). The former Roja boss assumed the role under a cloud of ill will in Spain and things didn't get much better after that.

    While Lopetegui was familiar with many of Real's stars from the national team, he was unable to inspire them as his predecessor Zinedine Zidane had. In 14 games, Lopetegui's Madrid won six and lost six, drawing twice, and their goal difference was a measly +1. Such a disastrous start to the campaign left the team totally demoralised and that was encapsulated in their 5-1 Clasico defeat to Barcelona in October, which ultimately cost Lopetegui his job.

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    #6 Bale is struggling to fill the void

    Ever since his arrival from Tottenham, Gareth Bale had been forced to live in the shadow of Ronaldo but the Portugal star's exit opened up an opportunity in 2018-19. Unfortunately for Madrid and Bale, he has struggled to fill the void. The Wales international was involved in 27 goals last term, scoring 21 himself and laying on six more, with a ratio of 87 minutes per goal involvement. This term, he has been involved in 15 goals, but his ratio is slightly worse at 116 minutes per goal involvement.

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    #7 They are dropping too many points

    One must go back 13 years to find the last time Real Madrid posted a points tally of 30 after the first 18 games of the Liga season. They have dropped points against the likes of Eibar and Levante, while Real Sociedad's 2-0 win at the Bernabeu this January was the first time the Basque club achieved that feat since 2004. Lost Blancos are languishing in fifth place at the time of writing, and dropping points remains a worrying habit.
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    #8 Isco is fading into obscurity

    As mentioned, Ronaldo’s exit from the Bernabeu opened up an opportunity for some of those who had been forced to play second fiddle while the forward was in town, and one of those who was expected to take his game to the next level was Isco. The Spain international had shown glimpses of his capacity to take the initiative in games over the past two campaigns in particular, but he hasn’t reached the same level of performance in 2018-19.

    Isco has been forced to contend with a place on the bench more than he would have liked and his return of four goals and two assists in 21 appearances leaves plenty to be desired. To top things off, the midfielder is said to be unhappy at the club after reportedly clashing with Santiago Solari.

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    #9 Poor work in the transfer market

    It is clear now that Real Madrid had no contingency plan for the exit of Ronaldo. Their transfer dealings during the pre-season window were uninspiring and they quite simply failed to strengthen the squad adequately enough. There had been talk of stars such as Neymar and Eden Hazard making their way to the Spanish capital, but Madrid's big-money signings ahead of the 2018-19 campaign were Mariano Diaz, who returned to the club from Lyon after one season, Alvaro Odriozola, who has been back-up to Dani Carvajal for much of the season, and Vinicius Jr., an unproven teenager.
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    #10 Unconvincing in Champions League

    They may have been crowned Club World Cup champions for a record-breaking fourth time in December, but Real Madrid have a serious fight on their hands if they are to maintain their status as Europe's kings. They were uncharacteristically shaky in the group stage and lost twice to CSKA Moscow, including a 3-0 defeat at the Bernabeu - their biggest ever home defeat in European competition. The last-16 draw has been kind - on paper at least - by pitting them against Ajax, but they will need to find another gear should they wish to defend their title.