Real Madrid’s inconsistent start to the season has many doubting the potential of the team and whether their current trajectory could see them winning major trophies at the end of the year. After recovering from their poor displays in the Champions League with an exciting victory against Inter Milan, Los Blancos suffered a 4-1 defeat to Valencia that soured the mood around the club. This article is the first of several examining how the team is doing in key statistical measures compared to previous seasons.
While not as bad as the last two seasons (18 goals scored in 2019-20 and 17 goals scored in 2018-19), Real Madrid have still registered their third lowest tally in the last six seasons. The team has put the ball in the back of the net 21 times this season which is less than the comparable number from 2015-16 (24), 2016-17 (29) and 2017-18 (24).
The biggest conclusion one may draw from the decline starting in 2018-19 is the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo which has come back to haunt Real Madrid whenever any form of quantitative analysis is performed. The Portuguese juggernaut was an immense source of firepower for the team whose loss is still being felt to this day.
That being said, the 21 goals scored this season is actually an uptick from the last two seasons and should hopefully be a sign that the team is trending in the right direction.
When it comes to shots on target, it is a slightly more grim picture for the current season. The Ronaldo effect is still clearly visible but unlike with goals where there appears to be some kind of resurgence this season, the productivity of accurate shots continues to slip. It is at the lowest point it has been in the last six seasons.
Translating this to the team provides evidence for the stale product fans have witnessed in the final third this season (a theme over the last three campaigns in particular). There are few individual instigators on the team as Hazard struggles with injuries, Benzema is more reliant on service, and Vincius continues his evolution. Rodrygo is a candidate but is also young and doesn’t get the same level of play as the others.
Unfortunately (or fortunately if you want to put a positive spin on it), the club cannot simply blame profligacy for its diminishing offensive output. When looking at all shots (regardless of whether it was on target or not), the same trend can be seen. The team appears to be spiraling into an attacking doldrum. Their struggles to create are very real and troubling. While a sample size of 11 games should always be viewed with caution (as well as considering the overall context in terms of the tactical shift towards defensive solidity last season) — there are indications within the noted trend that have been there all along. The saving grace and grand espoir is the integration of Hazard (epecially) and Ødegaard.
Data: WhoScored for performance data for all league and UEFA competition matches; and ESPN Soccer for all performance data for other competitions.