These are unusual times for Real Madrid. The La Liga and European heavyweights have gone four games without a win.
What’s worse, they’ve gone four games without a goal, too. That’s unheard of for the reigning continental champions.
The pressure is building on new boss Julen Lopetegui. He’s maintained Real’s 4-3-3 formation from their Zinedine Zidane days, but it’s not working and some reports in the Spanish media suggest he could already be on borrowed time at the Santiago Bernabeu. Why?
No Ronaldo replacement
Real sensationally sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer. The Portuguese striker moved for £90m and many expected Madrid to reinvest.
That hasn’t happened. It has been debated whether they are seriously courting Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and/or Eden Hazard, or whether Lopetegui wanted to try giving more responsibility to Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
Is the duo good enough to fill the void? The early evidence suggests not, and that Real now lack their once feared clinical edge up front.
Lopetegui has inherited a somewhat ageing squad. It’s one of the reason’s Ronaldo was sold.
Midfield lynchpin Luka Modric is 33-years-old. Sergio Ramos is 32, and both Karim Benzema and Marcelo will be 31 before the season is over.
There is young talent at the club. Isco, Casemiro and Marco Asensio are all under 27. But many of the club’s heavyweight names are entering the autumn of their careers – having already won everything.
Is there anything left to win?
Real’s recent success doesn’t mean things will be easy for Lopetegui. It could mean quite the opposite.
How do you inspire a squad which has already won so much? How can you take them to another level?
The club’s three successive Champions League is unprecedented in the modern era.
Where is the inspiration to go again under a new manager? What more is there to be achieved?
Los Blancos have only one La Liga twice in the last nine seasons, but in recent years they have sought European success over domestic. They seem pretty chuffed with their lot, and that could be bad news for the manager.
Who could replace him?
Lopetegui was dumped by Spain on the eve of the World Cup because of his move to Real. Now he could be out of the Bernabeu dugout within four months.
Former Real legend Guti is the 2/1 favourite to succeed the 52-year-old. Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has long-been tipped as a future Real manager, and is 3/1 for the role.
Next Real Madrid Manager
Guti – 2/1
Mauricio Pochettino – 3/1
Antonio Conte – 5/1
Laurent Blanc – 6/1
Arsene Wenger – 16/1
Max Allegri – 16/1
Joachim Low – 16/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing