Real Madrid’s troubles continued on Tuesday as they crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage following a 4-1 loss to Ajax.
It was a fourth defeat in five matches in all competitions for Santiago Solari’s men, and each of those losses have been at home.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at what has gone wrong for Real since they won the Champions League for a third successive year last season.
The man who led the club to each of those Champions League triumphs, Zinedine Zidane, generated shockwaves just five days after the hat-trick was completed when he announced he was to step down as head coach. Julen Lopetegui was brought in as Zidane’s successor but lasted only until October, being sacked the day after a 5-1 LaLiga thrashing at Barca. The former Spain boss oversaw just 14 competitive matches, with the final seven featuring only one win and five defeats. Solari, promoted from being in charge of Real Madrid B, subsequently took the helm and a very mixed bag of results has followed. Los Blancos lost in the Copa del Rey semi-finals and LaLiga against Barcelona, inside four days, compounded by the Ajax defeat. The recent losses at the Bernabeu have also included a 2-1 reverse to Girona. Real are currently third in LaLiga, 12 points behind leaders Barca. While it looks like they are missing Zidane’s guidance considerably, it should be noted that they finished third last term under the Frenchman, with a 17-point gap to Ernesto Valverde’s champions.
Zidane was one of two Real greats to leave the club last summer, with Los Blancos’ all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo moving on to Juventus in July – that is the loss of a forward who netted 44 goals for the club last season, including 15 in the Champions League. The most high-profile incoming player last summer was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, while 18-year-old forward Vinicius Junior’s switch from Flamengo became official in July. He has gone on to score four times. Real’s top scorer so far this term is Karim Benzema with 20 goals.
Problems for Bale?
With Ronaldo gone, the man in Real’s attack with the most star power is Gareth Bale, who ended the Ajax match with an ankle injury, three days on from being jeered by Los Blancos fans in the 1-0 loss to Barca. There have been suggestions he is still unsettled in Spain and is cut off from his team-mates, a view not helped by the fact he refused to celebrate his winning goal against Levante recently. However, Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has rubbished such reports and insists the 29-year-old is “happy” and intending to stay beyond the summer. Bale, who scored 21 times last term, has 13 goals so far this season.