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Real Madrid’s mixed year: a review of 2018

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It was both an accomplishing and disastrous year for the team. 

Al Ain v Real Madrid: Final - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Over the past 12 months, Real Madrid managed to experience the highs and lows of the worlds game.

Across the calendar year, Los Blancos were both on top of the world and at their very worst while simultaneously managing to play football.

Now as the year comes to a close, how exactly can Real Madrid’s past year be classified? Was it a success due to their accomplishments or simply a disaster? Let’s take a look.

January/February

Going into January of 2018, Real Madrid were trying to coming back from a devastating 0-3 loss to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

During the matches before-hand, the team also dropped points against clubs such as Valencia, Levante, Real Betis and Atletico Madrid so they did not have the best start to LaLiga as once hoped.

Then moving into the new year, the team failed their first test as they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey on January 24 losing 2-1 to Leganes and missing out on away goals.

Down one competition and not sitting too high in LaLiga, Zidane and his team were now entirely focused on doing the impossible: winning three Champions League titles in a row.

March/April

Throughout the beginning of the spring, Zidane and the squad worked hard to try and close the gap in LaLiga with the team regaining much of their lost form.

The games that were once giving them one or even zero points were now being rightfully claimed by Madrid.

When the next stages of the Champions league called, the team made it through the round of 16, the quarterfinals and the semi-finals.

They controversially managed to beat PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich to book their place in yet another Champions League final, the time against Liverpool.

May

Now we are enter May where one of the most exciting months of football lies ahead.

In other leagues, teams are playing their last few matches of the year to see who will win the title.

For Madrid’s case, however, the LaLiga trophy was no longer in sight, nor was it on anyone’s mind at the time.

May 26th, 2018 was the only day Zidane and his team focused on. The day where they would compete for their thirteenth Champions League title.

Eventually, after of course a very controversial match against Liverpool, the Spanish team came out on top with a 3-1 victory all but solidifying themselves as a dynasty.

June/July/August

After a celebratory May, the summer months at the Santiago Bernabeu were full of gossip, rumours and transfer news and ultimately destructive.

To start off, it was announced on May 30 that head coach Zinedine Zidane would no longer be managing the team.

While this technically was not at the beginning of the summer, it was the first major incident that shaped the outcome of the future months and created somewhat of a domino effect.

Being without a head coach, club President Florentino Perez had to try and quickly find a replacement for the former Galactico manager.

But who could replace him?

Guti, Mauricio Pochettino, and Antonio Conte were some of the suggestions to take the reigns at the Bernabeu but the club eventually appointed Julen Lopetegui.

The decision, however, upset the Spanish football federation at the time as Lopetegui was supposed to be focusing on the 2018 World Cup which featured a lot of players from the club. The result is Lopetegui being fired from management at the World Cup.

While the coaching situation at the club was stressful in itself, the summer transfer window was also opening up.

Young players like Borja Mayoral, Achraf Hakimi, Mateo Kovacic, and Theo Hernandez were all leaving the club on loans yet the main transfer gossip was about Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugese talisman announced after the Champions League victory that he may not be staying at Real Madrid for much longer and while this could have been due to a bout of frustration, it was true.

With the rumours building, as usual during transfer season, it was officially announced on July 10 that Ronaldo was to join Juventus for around 100 million Euros.

Now when the club came together for their first official match of the season, the UEFA Super Cup, they players were ridden with exhaustion from the World Cup, had a new, unfamiliar manager and were without their star player.

Madrid went on to lose the competition 2-4 to rivals Atletico Madrid, not starting off the 2018/19 season very well.

September/October

By the time the fall rolled in, the media was all over Madrid, eyeing them closely to see how they will respond in the new season.

What did they do? They once again had a shaky start to LaLiga dropping points against Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and most importantly, Barcelona.

The club thus took action and decided to sack Lopetegui and appoint another manager to coach the team.

Now enter the Santiago Solari era.

Under Solari, the team had been performing better, moved past the round of 32 in the Copa del Rey, improved in LaLiga standings and also put on better performances in the Champions League.

However, there was still another issue: the players were not putting on good performances on the pitch.

Most notably, the team went through a record-long goal drought going over eight hours without scoring.

Combine the weak performances on the pitch with all the drama from earlier on in the year and it looked as though the mighty club had fallen.

November/December

Towards the end of 2018, everything was still a mixed bag for the club.

Players were ridden with injuries with many Castilla players promoted to the first team as replacements.

Matches were still a bit weary across competitions yet had mixed feelings. The squad lost
0-3 to Eibar for the first time in history but gained six points in the Champions League.

Most recently, the team achieved a third consecutive Club World Cup victory after beating Al Ain 4-1 ending the year on a good note despite a mix of good and bad encounters.

Looking ahead to 2019, there is still a lot to do to ensure the coming months are full of only accomplishments.

The team is still in the Copa del Rey, moves on to the Champions League round of 16 against Ajax and has closed the gap in LaLiga to eight points so all three titles are within their grasp.

Additionally, players such as Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal are all coming back from injury with others soon to follow.

Overall, Real Madrid’s year was certainly a mixed bag.

Falling short of three titles but claiming a third consecutive Champions League and Club World Cup victory speaks for itself.

But while the drama always has an impact on a team, the importance is that they focus during the 90 minutes on the pitch.

Hopefully ending the year by claiming a title rather than an El Classico defeat will have a better effect going forward.