The capital club started the season very brightly having equaled Barcelona’s record of some 24 successive wins in La Liga showing remarkably why they will be able to successfully defend their European Championship crown and battle it out with Barcelona for the La Liga title missing it narrowly by a point last season and also the Copa Del Rey title after fielding an unqualified player.
Real Madrid have however, in their last two games before playing Eibar which they were yet again held to a one all draw at home in the La Liga and one in the Champions League have all ended in draws. First was a one all draw with Villareal at home and nerve cracking 2 all draw with Las Palmas at the Estadio De Gran Canaria before facing Burussia Dortmund at the Signa Iduna Park in another 2 all draw; dropping four points in La Liga and two in the Champions League group stages. making it four draws in a row
Several soccer pundits have expressed worry thinking the Los Blancos side will have a crucial season and if care is not taken Madrid will have a difficult season in defending their European Championship crown which no team has successfully done and even to annex the La Liga title which has eluded them for some time now.
The Casemiro Factor
Born Carlos Henrique Jose Franc Venancio Casemiro on 23rd February,1992; a product from the Sao Paulo FC youth system was loaned to Real Madrid and assigned to the B team in the Segunda division. He made his La Liga debut in April, 2013, playing 90 mins against Real Betis. He was later loaned to FC Porto on 19th July, 2014 on a season long loan. He returned to Madrid on the 5th July, 2015 after Madrid activated his buyback clause.
Casemiro since, has established himself as a pivotal and reliable defensive midfielder deployed to provide cover and protection for the back four. He has been instrumental in Madrid securing two champions League trophies in three seasons and has earned him the accolade “the shield” from some Madrid faithfuls.
The Brazilian midfielder has since been out with a fibula fracture that is to keep him out of the game for a month and more and the Spanish club recently ruled out the return of Marcos Ilorente from loan to replace him.
Tactically, Madrid was left exposed at the back in their games against Las Palmas after Benzema giving them a 1:2 lead only for them to concede at the depth of the game after Araujo leveled for the Canary side on the 85th minute.
Same was in their champions league group game against Burussia Dortmund again conceding in the 87th minute through the German striker Andre Shuerrle after going 1:2 up only to end the game with a frustrating draw.
The versatility of Luca Modric to man the defensive midfield role has come with its own issues as the player is also plagued by a thigh injury. Mateo Kovacic his Croatian counterpart is also not seen as an ideal replacement and Pepe who was deployed to such a position during the reigns of Jose Mourinho at the Benabeau looks more like a bleek option as he is also not too fit.
With Madrid serving a ban not to partake in player transfer for two consecutive transfer windows, the club is thus face with limited player resources to go through the season. The likes of Marco Varetti of Paris Saint Germain were likely options to fill the defensive midfield position when it becomes void and with others calling for Mousso Sissoko of Newcastle who Raphael Benitez is so keen on keeping for some time more.
There are other problematic selection issues. Marcelo seem to be ageing though he plays with much experience and the return of Contraeo from Loan seem to bolster the left back position but recently the position seem to be shaking allowing Danilo to be a temporal choice.
The striking role has been so monopolized by Karim Benzema even after the return of Alvaro Morata from loan from the old ladies of Italian football but has also not seen much playing time. Madrid should make the signing of a striker their priority to bring competition for their other strikers.
These will be a problematic on and off field issue for the former French international midfielder and Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane to fix immediately with stories of a rift between himself and star player Cristiano Ronaldo emerged after Cristiano was substituted during their match against Las Palmas.
Cameras caught the player raining abusive words target the coach in the dug out showing his displeasure after he was substituted for Lucas Vazquez .
We are however, to see what will happen but the earlier the Casimero Factor is fixed the better since Madrid need to brace itself for tougher season ahead.
Games Madrid will play without Casemiro
Real Betis (A) -October 15
Atletico Madrid (A) Mid November if there is an extension to his injury lay off.
World Cup 2018 qualifier
Venezuela (A) – October 11
Argentina (H) – extention of lay off
Legia Warsaw (H)- October 18
Having missed already games against Las Palmas, Dortmund and Eibar.