Shades of 2019 flashed before Madridistas eyes on Wednesday night as Real Madrid let a 1-0 lead slip against Manchester City in the Champions League.
The defeat poses questions that Real Madrid have become all too familiar with over the last two years as Los Blancos continue to struggle in front of goal having several chances to seal their win before conceding a Gabriel Jesus equaliser.
Regardless of how results might go from here on in, a new forward will be top of fan’s and, most probably, the club’s priority list this summer. Though some might have forgotten, Madrid were here 12 months ago and supplied fans with the popular choice of Luka Jovic.
On paper, Luka Jovic alongside Mariano Diaz as a third choice should have, at the very least, boosted Real Madrid goalscoring. However, a clear lack of trust between Zidane and his backup forwards has meant that Luka Jovic has seen minimal game time and Mariano has fallen into obscurity.
As demonstrated by the chart, Zidane has rarely trusted his backup options with significant game time since Alvaro Morata left the club three years ago. Luka Jovic has managed an average of just 26 minutes this campaign and much of those minutes have been scattered, making momentum hard to come by for the already low-confidence striker. The Serbian made his first start for Real Madrid on September 1st against Villarreal, his next came in mid-October against Mallorca and he’s made just two more starts since that game.
If Jovic season has gone badly then there are few words for Mariano’s campaign. The Dominican, who scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 just two seasons ago, has only managed to make the bench once all campaign for Real Madrid.
Given Karim Benzema’s record and form post Ronaldo, there is plenty of sense in keeping him as the starting striker. However, freezing out his supposed competitors like Zidane has is nonsensical especially given Real Madrid’s goal-scoring woes this campaign. One need only look to Real Madrid 2016/17 or Manchester City (where Gabriel Jesus has scored 11 goals as Sergio Aguero’s backup) to see the benefits of a healthy rotation system up front.
Heading into the new transfer window, Real Madrid must sit with Zidane and hammer out a striker that has a chance of gaining the French manager’s confidence or risk seeing yet another forward fall into obscurity.