Real Madrid have fallen well short of expectations in 2015 taking a complete reversal from their triumphant 2014 campaign. Despite the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti prior to the summer, the club was picked by many to overthrow their almighty rivals, Barcelona, of the top spot in La Liga and Europe. Unfortunately for Madridistas worldwide, their premonition hasn't come to fruition, at least in 2015.
Can Real Madrid right their wrongs and regain the form that produced La Décima two seasons ago? Here are three bold predictions as to what lies ahead for Real Madrid:
Real Madrid capture La Undécima under Rafa Benítez
Contrary to many Madridistas' desires, Florentino Perez sacked Ancelotti prior to the summer, opting to replace the three-time Champions League winner with Rafa Benítez. Despite boasting a record of winning at least one trophy with each club he's managed since his days with Valencia, Benítez was clearly a step down from Ancelotti. However, loyal supporters backed the new man in charge with hopes that he can lead Los Vikingos to La Undécima, their 11th Champions League title. Through five months, Real Madrid are still alive in the competition, set to battle Roma in the Round of 16 despite a few underwhelming performances in the group stage. The Italian giants are certainly no slouch but Real Madrid possess enough quality in both the attack and defense to dismiss Roma over two legs.
The road to Champions League title is undoubtedly a gauntlet but fortunately, that same gauntlet is heavily affected by the luck of the draw. Assuming Los Blancos handle their business against Roma, they could be pitted against a number of teams including vulnerable Gent, Wolfsburg, Zenit or Benfica. History tells us that Real Madrid have been proficient in this stage of the tournament over the past few years drawing favorable match-ups against the likes of APOEL and Galatasaray.
If Madrid's good fortune continues this season, they could easily find themselves in the semi-finals or better yet, Milan, with millions of supporters backing them fueling the Spanish juggernaut. Like mentioned before, the knockout phase isn't always a cinch but luck plays a part in a team's road to the final. Make the final and is it sane to bet against Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodríguez and Karim Benzema in a one game playoff? Didn't think so.
Eden Hazard jumps ship at Chelsea and lands in the Santiago Bernabeu
It's no secret that Eden Hazard isn't dazzling like he did last season in Chelsea's title-winning campaign but despite a few poor performances, he still remains one of the most wanted men in Europe. In fact, according to Sun, Real Madrid reportedly want him so much that they would be willing to let James Rodríguez go the other way in return for the Belgian playmaker.
However, with the way Chelsea's season is unfolding at the moment, it looks increasingly likely that Hazard would prefer a move away from London back into Champions League play. If this is the case, a substantial monetary offer may be enough to pull Hazard from Chelsea's grasp. Obviously adding Hazard to Real Madrid's already crowded attacking midfield would create problems for any manager, but they're problems that any manger would be exceptionally grateful to have. Hazard would give the Spanish giants just another creative option up front who can play either down the middle, right or left, a versatile attacker to say the least.
Karim Benzema finds a new home
Perhaps this doesn't sound that outrageous considering the rumors that swirled around Benzema in August pertaining to a move to Arsenal. However, Benzema has been a loyal servant to Real Madrid since joining in 2009 scoring in nearly half of his appearances for the club. But, there comes in a time in every player's career in which a move away may suit both parties. Benzema is currently under investigation for his alleged part in a plan to blackmail France national team teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex video.
He has denied any wrongful doing but could face up to five years in prison if found guilty. While Real Madrid has publicly backed their player on numerous occasions, if it presents itself, would the club turn down a big money offer with rumors circulating that Robert Lewandowski could leave Bayern Munich in the summer? Benzema's been a huge part of the club's success but it's been proven time-after-time that money talks, especially if Lewandowski is on on the market.