With Barcelona and surprise package Valencia out in front, Real Madrid is facing an uphill battle in La Liga.

By 90Min
October 23, 2017

Anyone would think after nine games of the La Liga season gone, a possible 20 points out of 27 is not a bad haul for most teams. However, Champions League and La Liga holders Real Madrid are simply not most teams.

Being five points off the pace this season already, behind rivals Barcelona and surprise package Valencia, has created cause for concern among the expectant Madridistas. 

In the Champions League, a recent draw at home to Tottenham keeps Los Blancos level at the top of group H with the English side, but the major area of concern has been the stuttering form in La Liga at Santiago Bernabeu.

After losing in the iconic stadium to Real Betis on September 21 with a sucker punch last minute counter-attack from the Andalusian side, Real Madrid suffered one of their worst league starts for twenty years, going all the way back to the 1995/96 when they last failed to win a home match in the first three fixtures.

The question remains after winning back-to-back Champions League's and wrestling the league crown from Barcelona, why have Los Merengues lacked consistency at home domestically in Zinedine Zidane's second full year in charge?

While Dani Ceballos and Theo Hernández look like a couple of shrewd additions for the future, failure to strengthen in key areas after the departures of Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Pepe has cost Los Blancos at the beginning of this campaign.

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As Cristiano Ronaldo missed the first three league games through suspension (following his red card, after pushing referee Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea in the Super Cup clash with Barcelona) Real Madrid lacked inspiration, and the spark needed to turn one point into three was missing.

Since his return, the Ballon d'Or holder has yet to find the net at home in the league, with victories coming through key performances from Spanish duo Isco and Marco Asensio. Couple that with the injuries Gareth Bale has picked up and the evidence suggests a problem is bubbling under the surface.

As Karim Benzema also struggles for goals, the decision to let Morata go is beginning to look an unwise one. One thing Zidane did excellently last season was to rotate the squad well as they chased trophies on multiple fronts, keeping everyone simultaneously fresh and on their toes, while getting the maximum amount of potential out of his fringe players.

So far Barcelona have been the in-form team in the league, under new coach Ernesto Valverde, winning eight and drawing one from nine, as talisman Lionel Messi has been in his usual scintillating form - bagging 11 goals and three assists.

Real Madrid bounced back after lumbering to a point against Spurs, with a 3-0 victory at home against Eibar to get the Santiago Bernabeu crowd off their seats.

Asensio stole the headlines once again as Ronaldo once again failed to hit the target. 

The 32-year-old Portuguese star will need to find top form again, with help from the likes of Asensio and Isco, in order to make life difficult again for their eternal rivals Barca. 

Slow starts may be tolerated at other clubs but at the top of La Liga, every point counts as they chase another title.

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