There's no question Real Madrid has a problem. The team has lost its form and you have to wonder how much time manager Julen Lopetegui will be given to turn things around. The club snapped its worst goal-scoring drought on Saturday, finding the back of the net for the first time since Sept. 22. To make matters worse, Marcelo, a defender, scored the goal. For those counting, Lopetegui's bunch, a group that went on to win three straight Champions League titles before he got there, went 481 minutes without a goal.
So why is this team struggling? There are three main reasons why this is happening to a club that no longer looks like a contender to win the Champions League.
1. No Cristiano Ronaldo
This is the easy one. Losing the star in the summer to Juventus caught most people off guard. And his production has been missed. Ronaldo averaged over a goal per game during his time in Spain and only once did he finish a season with less than 40 goals. His lowest output in a season was scoring 33 goals in 35 games back in 2009-10. That's the kind of production this team would welcome in a heartbeat right now. His consistent goal scoring would see this team in far better shape than it is.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has five goals in 10 games for Juventus so far after a slow start.
Even his goal over the weekend, a simple rebound finish, would be great for this Los Blancos side:
No Ronaldo, no party.
2. Mariano is not the answer
The Dominican-born Spanish striker has just one goal in six matches since returning to the club this summer from Lyon, but Real Madrid believed he would be the answer after flirting around with Valencia's Rodrigo and other strikers. He just came off a 21-goal season for the French club and was in the best form of his career, but he was far from a normal Real Madrid signing. Anyone who is familiar with the sport is used to those Real Madrid signings that blow you away based on caliber and price. We've seen it time and time again, yet Real decided to splash the cash on a goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois, which they didn't need with Keylor Navas already on the roster. They chose not to go after a top-tier attacker, perhaps thinking Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale would be good enough. But for Real Madrid, anything short of the world's best players in attack just isn't the answer.
Mariano is a very good striker on the right team, but he's not a top-tier one that fits what Real Madrid wants to do. He's not the answer and unlikely will be, and his production so far proves that.
3. No sufficient replacement, but there's one player who can solve it
The struggles for Real Madrid have been in attack, as noted through the goal-scoring drought, but it comes down to finishing. Real has created more chances on goal than opponents. For example, over the last seven matches, Real has created 47 chances on goal compared to receiving 30 shots on frame. Over those seven matches, just one win. So the creativity in the final third, the attempts on frame have been there, the ball just won't go in. As frustrating as that may be, Real must find somebody in December to save their season, and all signs point to one person. No, not Eden Hazard though he would fit in well at the club. It's Mauro Icardi. The Argentine striker is one of the most in-form players in the world and is as consistent as they get. He's averaged 27.5 goals per game over the last two seasons and that's without having the creativity Real Madrid has in the midfield and playing with others who aren't afraid to shoot like Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Persisic.
Icardi would be the focal point of his attack, does well in the air and comes up big in the most important moments. He did it again at the weekend as Inter beat rival AC Milan:
And with that, here are our latest power rankings:
How the rankings work
The power rankings list the top 25 teams in the world when it comes to recent form. The teams playing the best soccer, both in their respective leagues or in international competitions, will be considered. Quality of the opponents will also be taken into an account, but above all, the most important factors are recent results and overall standings in competitions.
World Club Soccer Power Rankings
|It's early, but it's hard seeing anybody catching this team in Italy. Focus now turns to the Champions League, which is what this club craves.|
|You can start a club with any one player in all of world soccer. PSG likely has the top two picks in Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.|
Manchester City (ENG)
|City has allowed just three goals in nine Premier League matches. Wasn't the defense the big question mark?|
|The Reds have fallen behind City as the strongest team in the Premier League. Three goals in the last five games? Concerning.|
|Good thing this team has gotten results because it's likely to slip with.|
Bayern Munich (GER)
|Impressive response by beating Wolfsburg. Robert Lewandowski has found his scoring boots.|
|It's time to move on from Alvaro Morata. He offers this team little and just provides fans with laughs. Poor guy.|
|The Gunners return from the international break with a matchup against Leicester City on Monday.|
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
|Quality draw at Villarreal and it's the same old story: Good defensively, inconsistent in attack.|
|The biggest threat to Juventus in Serie A probably isn't much of a threat at all.|
|Lucky to get past West Ham over the weekend. When you create less chances than Tottenham, it's a bad sign.|
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
|You can't blame the club if they trigger the clause to purchase Paco Alcacer. Eight goals in five games, he's been one of the most surprising signings of the summer.|
Inter Milan (ITA)
|When you win the Derby della Madonnina, you have a reason to smile. Icardi has been as clutch as can be.|
|This clb is 9-0-0 in the Dutch league and likely out of the Champions League group stage at some point. Focus likely to shift to domestic competitions before long.|
|Hitting all the right buttons at the right time and looking like the favorite to win the league and the Copa Libertadores. Huge test at Boca Juniors this week in the semis.|
|Seventh place in Serie A and still missing Allison.|
Boca Juniors (ARG)
|Not a great draw at home to Rosario Central, but you can tell the focus is on Copa Libertadores this week. Time to make or break the season.|
|Crushed by Barcelona as expected. This team has conceded more goals to Messi than any other in the world. Nightmares.|
Club America (MEX)
|Top of the table in Liga MX with a huge match against Cruz Azul coming this Saturday. Not long to go now.|
|Second in Ligue 1 with seven wins. Defensively, this team has been so sharp and playing as a unit.|
Borussia M'gladbach (GER)
|Three points behind first-place Dortmund and already beat Bayern Munich. A legit threat to win the league?|
|The Brazilian giants have found their form. Second in the league, this team could jump into first if Palmeiras slips up with Copa Libertadores on their mind. Three wins in a row with 10 goals, and four straight clean sheets.|
River Plate (ARG)
|River lost last week for the first time since February but the team played some young guns who performed well. All focus is on Gremio this week.|
|Three straight league matches without a victory. That consistent defense has struggled as of late.|
Atlanta United (MLS)
|The first MLS team to enter our rankings and the league's highest scoring team. The favorite to win MLS Cup.|
Biggest movers: Palmeiras (+5)
Teams knocked out of the top 25 this week: Real Madrid (ESP), Racing (ARG), Zenit (RUS), Cruz Azul (MEX)
Honorable mentions: Union (ARG), Werder Bremen (GER), Lazio (ITA)