Last month Real Madrid were celebrating their second Club World Cup triumph in two years.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s 53rd-minute free-kick was enough to see of Brazilian side Gremio and Los Blancos was celebrating a trophy-laden 2017, in which they also won the league and became the first side in history to retain the Champions League title.
In addition to this, Ronaldo’s ego was increased even more (yes it is possible) as he beat arch-rival and nemesis Lionel Messi to win his fifth Ballon d’Or title and draw level with the Argentinian.
However, 2018 has been anything but glorious for the defending league champions and last night they watched their hopes of returning the La Liga Crown get washed away in the Bernabeu rain, after losing 1-0 to fifth-placed Villarreal at home.
It was a game which should have been won, but wastefulness and an inspired performance by Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo consigned last season’s league champions to a third home league defeat of the season.
But what has gone so wrong this season?
An inability to kill off teams?
Real Madrid scored 106 goals and conceded 41 in last season’s victorious campaign.
They won their matches by being clinical, ruthless and by killing off teams quickly and not letting them back into the game.
The defence was hardly solid, but with an in-form Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch, Madrid was often able to get away with leaking goals as they simply scored more than the opposition.
However, Madrid has only scored 32 league goals this season and Ronaldo is currently being outscored by players such as Paulinho and Chelsea loanee Loic Remy.
They had 28 attempts on goal against Villarreal, and Ronaldo, in particular, was guilty of missing some golden opportunities to score.
It has been a long time since Los Blancos made a Galactico size signing; the last person was James Rodriguez who arrived after the World Cup for around the £64 million mark.
Maybe a Galactico signing is long overdue?
An abysmal home record
Real Madrid have already dropped more league points at home this season than they did in the whole of last season.
Three out of the Four League defeats they have suffered this season have come at the Bernabeu: 0-1 against Girona, 0-3 against Barcelona and yesterday’s 0-1 defeat to Villarreal.
Barcelona are storming the league this year and they have 25 points out of a possible 30 this season; therefore league form seems to be the key this year.
In addition to these three defeats, they have also drawn twice: a 2-2 draw against Valencia and a 1-1 draw against Levante
Aside from December’s relentless 5-0 win against Seville at the Bernabeu, Madrid have never really looked as assured or as dominant as they did at times last season.
What does the future hold?
Unfortunately for Los Blancos, Barcelona are miles ahead of them in La Liga and they have been drawn against Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League round of 16.
On their day Real Madrid are close to unstoppable, but so are PSG and with Madrid’s leaky defence, they could lose their Champions League Crown as well.
There have been rumours circulating that Ronaldo could be used as bait to sign Neymar from Paris Saint Germain, not to mention Madrid’s ongoing interest in Eden Hazard; but it is highly unlikely that any of these transfers will happen in January.
The only positive for Real Madrid is that their Portuguese Talisman, has nine goals in six Champion’s league appearances this season; therefore it is far too late to count out the 12-time European champions just yet.