It’s been an unpredictable season for Real Madrid. Technically, they are still competing on all three fronts; but realistically, it’s only the Copa del Rey they can hope to lift at the end of the campaign.Β 


The most successful club in Europe, Real Madrid, have always had an insatiable hunger for success. We’ve seen countless managerial changes and player transfers over the years, but the heart of Madrid has always been the same, aching for silverware.

After winning three Champions Leagues and one La Liga in just three seasons under Zinedine Zidane, the club were meant to return to normalcy, sooner or later. But no one probably expected the change to be so abrupt and jarring.

Julen Lopetegui’s ill-fated Real Madrid stint ended just after the crushing 5-1 defeat at Barcelona. Out of options, the club promoted their B team coach, Santiago Solari, who, in no way, had the qualification to lead the star-studded senior side.

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Madrid bounced back with four consecutive wins, but the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Eibar at the end of November gave the club a harsh reality check. Since then, it has been an unpredictable saga of disappointment, mediocrity, and, more often than not, despair.

Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprising and gut-wrenching departure in the summer, Real Madrid needed to sign a proven striker to mask the absence of their record goalscorer. Instead, they brought Mariano Diaz back from Lyon, hoping for him to keep the team’s primary goalscorer, Karim Benzema, on his toes.

So far, the plan hasn’t paid dividends, as both strikers have struggled with niggling injuries and inconsistent showings in front of goal. Gareth Bale, who was meant to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s worthy successor, has also been a major disappointment. Like every other season, he has missed a good number of games due to injuries, leaving his side pale and uninspiring up top.Β Other stars, who used to look world class under Zinedine Zidane, have been reduced to their mortal, mediocre selves. They are seemingly struggling with fatigue and complacency – the two most damaging traits to a team with Real Madrid’s ambitions.

Standing at the midway point of the season, Real Madrid find themselves 10 points behind La Liga leaders, Barcelona, who are, once again, running away with the title. In the Champions League, Real Madrid will take on a spirited Ajax side in the round-of-16. On paper, it doesn’t seem to be too big of a tie for the reigning European champions; but Solari’s Real Madrid look and feel a lot different than Zidane’s champions.

That leaves us with the King’s Cup – a trophy Madrid have never been too fond of. They last won it in 2014, under La Decima hero Carlo Ancelotti, and have been an utter disappointment in the competition, since. Last year, they were knocked out by a lowly Leganes side in the quarter-finals, proving how careless they have been in the competition.

This year, Los Blancos have a 3-0 last-16 advantage going into Wednesday’s second leg at Leganes, and Solari’s Madrid better realize just how crucial this tie is for them. Yes, they are not the biggest fans of the competition, and the medals aren’t as shiny as some of the other tournaments’; but, in reality, it still is a major trophy, and it could end up saving Solari’s job at the end of the season.

Solari might end up pulling off something spectacular and lead Madrid to their fourth successive Champions League trophy. But judging by their performances, and the way the Argentinian has managed his side, even dreaming about it seems like a bit of a stretch. For now, winning the Copa del Rey should be one of Madrid’s primary objectives, and the very first step will be to put on a show against a spirited Leganes side on Wednesday.

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