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Stats don’t tell the whole story for Real Madrid

The worst start to the season since 1998 according to AS last week.

Real Madrid v Eibar - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Apparently Real Madrid have made their worst start to the season in almost twenty years according to AS and there's no reason to doubt the statistics quoted.

Although the figures will have been thoroughly checked out before publication, the question is not over the accuracy of these but instead about their relevance to the current campaign.

It's like when you read a report that says the last time a club won a particular fixture was in 1949 when none of the present-day team were even born.

Statistics like that can make interesting reading and provide the answers to many a quiz session; but did this affect Zidane's preparation for Eibar? I don't think so.

There wouldn't have been many of Real Madrid's present squad actually playing in 1998 at league level.

Iker had just moved up to the then Real Madrid 'C' before making his first team debut later that season; Zinedine Zidane was still in Italy playing at Juventus, and Sergio Ramos could be found among the canteras in Sevilla.

The coach at that time was Guus Hiddink - who was later replaced by John Toshack - and the leading scorer that season was Raúl with 28 goals in all competitions.

Despite having the sort of start to the season that would see most managers swiftly relieved of their duties, Madrid actually finished in second place behind eventual champions Barça. That in itself will have been harder to take than making a poor start.

No doubt that'll be where the conversation is leading to with the current standings in the league table in mind. If Real Madrid don’t continue to close the gap at the top further there will be likely be more comparisons drawn from that season before much longer.

Last night’s result will go a long way towards allaying those fears though. A 3 – 0 win is always good.

And the thing to remember is that we are talking about a completely different group of players.

As we said, stats can be interesting and fun; but although in football most of us love the chance to indulge in a bit of nostalgia nobody at training on Saturday is going to be too worried about how the results went twenty years ago.

It's important at this point to emphasise that we shouldn't confuse this with the reverence in which we hold the great players of the past like the legendary Paco Gento (ask Karim Benzema about that) or Alfredo Di Stéfano, Raúl or Ronaldo (the Brazilian).

Great players like these and others who made up the great Real Madrid sides of the past deserve to be lauded - and so they should be.

When discussing the history of Real Madrid the list of people falling into this category is endless and that's even before mentioning the club's achievements. Previous successes should never be forgotten; and are unlikely to be in any case.

But at player level, most of the current squad were only just starting out on their professional careers twenty years ago.

When you consider that Achraf was only born in November of that year, Borja Mayoral and Jesús Vallejo are still only 20; and that Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio are widely regarded as the ‘older’ members of the ‘younger’ squad’; it puts a different perspective on a common theme.

Comparing current events to those of the past is a popular pastime in football; and it’s interesting to look back at different teams, formations and results. It’s something I think that most people always have done and will continue to do in the future.

However, the point is that Zinedine Zidane won't see the results from nearly twenty years ago as having any relevance at all to today's Real Madrid. And it certainly wouldn’t have influenced his thinking for yesterday or for the weeks to come.

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