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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s last game of the season

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Real Madrid finished this season with 18 defeats, the second-most in their history. It’s now time for a summer of questions and answers. 

Real Madrid CF v Real Betis Balompie - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It happened again. The team that is still the champion of Europe for a further two weeks lost for an 18th time this season as they fell 2-0 against Real Betis in the final game of the campaign. Loren Morón and former player Jesé inflicted more pain on Los Blancos and the summer inquest will now begin in earnest.

Three answers

1. Just how little possession will Real Madrid have?

Real Madrid had just 26 percent of possession when they faced Real Betis earlier in the season and beat them 2-1. It was their lowest possession number in a match since 2011. Only Barcelona have a higher possession percentage for the season than Quique Setién’s side, who taken care of the ball so well, so it was going to be interesting to see how much possession Real Madrid would have in this reverse fixture in front of their own fans.

The answer was 47 percent. Much better, but this time they were on the losing side. Possession doesn’t always equal goals.

2. How will Vinícius respond to his Copa America snub?

This was Vinícius’ last competitive match until August, with the Brazilian left out of Tite’s Brazil squad for the Copa America and not expected to be used for Castilla’s play-off push. His determination to make the squad for the summer tournament in his home country had been widely reported in recent weeks and he is believed to be upset at missing out on the list, but his response was good and he was the source of most of Real Madrid’s (admittedly scarce) attacking joy. The teenager’s maturity throughout this season has been impressive and he really seems to have his head screwed on. There is reason to get hyped about this young talent.

3. Will Bale be given the send-off he deserves?

“Bye bye Bale.” That was the front page headline on AS on Sunday morning, as Gareth Bale prepared for what is expected to be his final match as a Real Madrid player. But he didn’t play. Zinedine Zidane didn’t give the forward any minutes, which is a real shame considering the epic moments he has been involved in since his 2013 move from Tottenham. As much as some fans dislike him for a number of (reasonable or not) reasons from language skills to golf to injuries, he surely deserved a better farewell than this.

Three questions

1. Will the Real Madrid fans embrace Courtois as their starter?

Keylor Navas is on his way out of Real Madrid and was given one final outing at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The Real Madrid faithful chanted his name at the start and sporadically throughout, sad to see one of the heroes of the three-peat Champions League success depart. He has been a favourite at the stadium, but the starter next season will be Thibaut Courtois and it remains to be seen how he’ll be received by the supporters. It hasn’t been a good first season at the club for the Belgian and the fact he has been appearing in the local gossip columns as much as on the back pages has irritated many Real Madrid socios, particularly the older ones. But Courtois is Real Madrid’s undisputed starter now and this relationship needs to be a good one.

2. How much will Fede Valverde play next season?

While it has been widely reported that Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente aren’t in Zinedine Zidane’s long-term plans, Fede Valverde does seem to have a place in the 2019/20 squad. How much will he be used, though? The Uruguayan started in this match, his seventh appearance under Zinedine Zidane, but it wasn’t his best afternoon. He’ll be a useful squad player for sure, but how much will Zidane trust him when there are trophies on the line? Hopefully he is given enough opportunities, but we’ll have to wait and see.

3. Will there ever be a season as bad as this again?

This is the question everyone wants to know the answer to. The 2018/19 season has been Real Madrid’s worst in the 21st century and one of their very worst ever. They’ve lost 18 times this campaign across all competitions, the second-most losses ever and the most since 1984/85, starting and finishing the season in defeat. Real Madrid fans demand much better from this team, starting from the first match of 2019/20. It will surely be better, but it’ll have to be a lot better in order for Los Blancos to challenge for silverware. Things surely cannot ever again be as bad as 2018/19, the nightmare season that is now over and consigned to the trashcan of history.