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3 Bold Predictions for the 16-17 Season

Strange things happen in the Beautiful Game, here are my predictions for the 16-17 season:

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

1. Real Madrid will win La Liga and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and Copa Del Rey

It's crazy to think that the last time time Real won a league title was back in the 11-12 season. Given the players Madrid have had over the years including Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Xabi Alonso, and Mesut Ozil, you would expect Los Blancos to have more domestic silverware under their belt. This in itself shows just how difficult winning La Liga is.

Nonetheless Zinedine Zidane is a man on a mission. When he was initially contracted by The Royal Whites many pundits were quick to point out his lack of managerial experience at the top level. Understandably there was reason to suspect his tenure could be hit or miss.

Now he has to prove that his Champions League success was not an isolated incident. The French coach has a knack for building relationships with players similar to Carlo Ancelotti which will help balance out any tactical awareness that may be lacking. With a deeper squad compared to Barcelona and Atletico and a better understanding of how his players work in cohesion, Zizou's team has the best chance of putting together a season that could wrestle the league title away from holders and arch-rivals Barcelona.

As a result of focusing on the domestic title, I predict that Real will falter in the latter stage of the Champions League. It's important that the Madrid faithful recognize that Los Galacticos did have one of the easiest routes to La Undecima in recent history. If Real are expected to go full throttle for Spanish glory, I think they will trip on the last hurdles against more difficult opposition. During the 15-16 campaign, Zidane did show he can be at fault for making substitutions at improper times as well as tinkering with the line-up when unnecessary.

Similar to their Champions League hopes, I feel that having all eyes on La Liga will take a toll in their Copa Del Rey run. I have patience with Zidane and trust that with time he will get the hang of things. This will be his first full year in the top flight, so by putting things in perspective, I think that obtaining a league title and deep runs in both the Copa and UCL is a fair return considering Real will also be competing with the likes of Europe's other elite Spanish clubs Atletico and Barcelona, as well as regulars in Europe Bayern Munich.

2. Pepe will keep Varane out for another year

For some, French defender Raphael Varane has regressed in his development. With Pepe ageing, many thought that the 15-16 campaign would finally be the time where Varane would become an undisputed starter. However, after shaky performances, Zizou has opted for Pepe who has been a defensive stalwart.  He has repaid the faith that has been entrusted in him with consistent performances and on many occasions has been Real's man of the match.

My prediction for the 16-17 season is that Zidane will go for experience and reliability with a Ramos and Pepe center-back pairing once again, omitting Varane. The talented defender may have doubts over his future as he has already voiced his frustration due to lack of playing time this season.

3. B-B-C: Bale and Benzema to hit personal records, Ronaldo to have a great season but not as impressive as before

Despite the struggles the famed trident suffered in the first half of the season due to fitness concerns and managerial oversight (Benitez), individually the front three shattered many of their previous best records.

During the 16-17 season, I predict that Bale and Benzema will better their personal numbers once again notching even more goals and assists as they near their peaks. The two have proved vital when CR7 doesn't have his goal-scoring boots on in critical games. It appears that the over-reliance on Ronaldo is finally beginning to diminish. I hope that Ronaldo begins to be selective in games and chooses to rest when his body calls for it. There have been too many times to count when the Portuguese has claimed he was "100% fit" to really disappoint fans when he looked sluggish and jaded. There's no need to risk his talents in games where the rest of the squad can get rotation in and get the job done when facing lower-level teams. As a direct effect of resting more frequently, I believe his goal and assist tally, though will be great, will begin to show slightly lower numbers.

These are my predictions, comment below and let me know what you think will go down next year. Hala Madrid!

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