When it comes to the Champions League there is one team that has proven to be far superior to any other team. That team is no other than Real Madrid. In 2019 they will be reaching for their 14th Champions League title, which would ultimately mean they would double the number of titles AC Milan has (7). Even more impressive than their 14 titles in the history of the Champions league is the fact that they have won the tournament 3 consecutive times from 2016-2018, which means they can make it 4 in a row this season. But with 16 other teams standing in their way, will they be able to do it once more even without Cristiano Ronaldo?
When a team like Real Madrid who are arguably the undisputed champions of Europe manage to achieve 13 titles in the Champions League, there are of course some speculations, which is somewhat fair as it’s hard to believe one team is a class above all other for a decade. There have been talks about how Real Madrid had an easy road to the finals of the Champions League for several seasons now. I mean let’s just look at the 2015/16 season when they had to face Roma, Wolfsburg, and Manchester City, but then again, the next season they faced off against Napoli, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. Even last season, Real had arguably one of the toughest opponents in the playoffs; PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Liverpool in the finals, but still managed to win. So, thinking they have it any easier than other teams is silly if you ask me. Of course, being paired with Ajax this season does not help the cause. But as said, once you are a top dog, there are a lot of people who wish to see you fail and if you don’t it’s surely because of “cheating”.
With their spectacular results, it would be hard to deny most of the Real Madrid success was due to the impressive performance from their player(s). Shocking right? Well as obvious as that statement seems, let me elaborate.
Ever since the 2012/13 season, there has been one player who was above all others, and that player is no other than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been announced as the top scorer in the Champions League for 6 consecutive seasons. He has scored 12, 17, 10, 16, 12 and 15 goals in the past seasons, which makes him the best forward in the Champions League as of now. And if you ask me it was not only the fact that Ronaldo was that good, there was also the factor of playing against him. Imagine how demotivating it is for teams to play against one of the best if not the best player of our time. But what happens when Ronaldo is not a part of the team anymore? Who will be the one to replace him and bring Real Madrid yet another title? There are 2 players that come to my mind; Bale and Benzema. But then again, I have some doubts about them being as good as Ronaldo.
He was brought to the Real Madrid as a replacement for Ronaldo, but he has not yet lived to that name. He is simply too inconsistent. As of now, he has scored 5 goals in LaLiga in 17 appearances. As for the Champions League, he has only 3 goals, which does not even put him among the top 5 scorers. His biggest issue is not only the “inconsistency” but also injuries. This season alone he has been injured 4 times, which totals 42 days. While he is capable of playing well, I am a bit concerned how fit and healthy can he stay through the tough matches ahead of him. If he manages to overcome injuries and stay healthy, I can see him performing well, but then again, it’s a big question mark when it comes to Bale
I’m not trying to upset any Real Madrid supporters, but he is simply a terrible striker. Ironically, he has scored 10 goals in the LaLiga this season, but just like Bale, he has only 3 goals in the Champions League. Of course, 10 goals in LaLiga is more than he scored last season (5), which can be seen as an improvement, nonetheless, I don’t see him stepping into Ronaldo shoes. Then again Benzema is the leading scorer for Real Madrid with 18 goals this season in all competitions, so maybe he will prove to be the only hope for Real Madrid.
If neither of those two players steps up and produce more goals, Real might have some issues in this year’s Champions League. While other teams have players only dedicated to scoring goals, Real Madrid seems to be lacking in that department. If we just look at a few other teams, PSG (Cavani, Mbappe and Neymar), Barcelona (Messi and Suarez), Juventus (Ronaldo, Dybala, Mandzukic), City (Jesus, Aguero), Bayern (Lewandowski), Liverpool (Salah, Firmino, Mane) it’s clear that they have some potent attack that is more than capable of threatening the opponents net. On the other side, Real Madrid has Benzema and Bale, maybe Asensio.
I’m not trying to say Real Madrid won’t go a long way this season, as they still have a good team, but when the number of teams shrinks to 8, 4 teams, every detail will matter and any weakness can and will be exploited by other teams. In that regard, if they don’t improve in the scoring department… well, we just might be looking at a “new” champion.