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Comparing Real Madrid’s start to recent seasons

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Have Real Madrid started better or worse than usual?

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

Much had has been made about Real Madrid’s start to the season. It seems as though the natural reaction has been to overreact, and immediately give hot takes about why Madrid have already lost La Liga, why the squad is incomplete, or how Ronaldo has lost a step (seriously).

As a result of this, I figured I’d go back through the past three seasons and determine how the team started on all three occasions.

2014/2015

This season was Carlo Ancelotti’s last, but how did his last season in charge begin? Well, Madrid lost two of it’s first three matches, and both deservedly so. While they won their next five, Madrid had accumulated a total of 15 points through their first seven matches.

The Champions League started eerily similar, with a solid win over Basel, but an unconvincing win against Ludogorets.

The poor beginning of the season did not stop Madrid from going on an absolute tear though, because Los Blancos would soon embark on an insane 22-match winning streak. The team showed cracks early, but played very well once they hit their stride.

Ultimately though, no trophies were won due to injuries and a lack of depth while Barcelona won a historic treble. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked, and Madrid were in need of a new direction.

2015/2016

Rafa Benitez’s tenure at Madrid did not get off to the best start. After drawing the La Liga opener to Sporting Gijon, Madrid proceeded to draw three of the first seven matches. That places the 2015/2016 team at 15 points through 7 matches, or, the same as the year before.

Perhaps the chief criticism of this team was how poorly they were playing. Whether it was discontent over the managerial decision, bad form, or bad tactics, Madrid just simply weren’t playing as well as they should.

While Madrid won it’s first two Champions League matches in dominant fashion, they looked unconvincing in their next three against PSG (x2), and even lowly Shakhtar. Real would continue to look poor for the rest of the of the year until finally President Florentino Perez decided he had had enough.

Real Madrid CF v Legia Warszawa - UEFA Champions League
Relax, Zidane knows what he’s doing.
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Despite the slow start to the year, and Benitez’s eventual sacking, Madrid still nearly won La Liga, and won their 11th Champions League crown.

2016/2017

To start Zidane’s first full season in charge, Madrid started in similar fashion to the year before. After winning their first four matches, they drew the next three, and just like the previous two years before, sat at 15 points through seven matches.

This form carried over to the Champions League. After a miraculous comeback at the Bernabeu against Sporting Lisbon, and a late equalizer from Dortmund, Madrid looked completely unconvincing in their first two Champions league match-ups despite having four points.

Just like the year prior, Madrid looked poor for much of the first half of the year. However, this particular season they were saved by the heroics of players like Sergio Ramos, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

This team played poor football on many different occasions, but through individual brilliance, often won results. Tactics were criticized, and Zidane was accused of making his team cross the ball non-stop. Some were even calling for his head (yes, remember that?).

Despite the poor start, crossing, and near-death experiences, this team provided in the first half of the season, they managed to turn it around to the tune of yet another Champions League victory, and a thrilling La Liga title.

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final
Real Madrid win the 2016-2017 UEFA Champions League
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Comparing the Past to the Present

As you can see there’s one thing that the last three seasons have all had in common: a slow start to the season. This current team is playing good football, and creating a lot of good chances, but the finishing and luck has been subpar. The current squad will probably be fine.

Each of the last three seasons started with 15 points from seven matches, and this season is hardly different with 14. Of those three seasons, two won meaningful silverware at the end of the year, while all three were in contention for La Liga until the very last few matchdays.

My point is — don’t overreact, don’t give scolding hot takes, and relax! Real Madrid may start the season slow, but if there’s anything Zidane has proven he can do, it’s getting the team up for big games at the end of the year.