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Jose Mourinho finally helped Real Madrid regain the title from Barcelona, but they failed to capture the Champions League title while also almost suffering a historic collapse in La Liga.
There were a few major concerns from last season that will carry on to the new campaign until the team can show they have improved.
Squad Rotation and Consistency
For a manager that is arguably the best in football, Mourinho was a very poor handler of his team last season. At various times throughout the season, his failure to fully trust his fringe players cost his squad points as well as fitness.
His apparent refusal to integrate the talented depth at his disposal—including youth players—can be argued as a key reason they failed in Europe, as the key players were so tired by the Champions League semifinals.
The four points lost in three days to Villarreal and Malaga encapsulated the poor squad rotation, but it was not the only time Madrid struggled in consecutive matches.
There were countless matches where Real Madrid were basically outplayed by far inferior teams—Granada, Levante, Rayo, and Betis are all examples.
Fortunately for Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo was almost always there to bail them out when the team was struggling. This brings us to the second concern for Madrid.
Ronaldo deserves all the credit in the world for playing his best football when the team needed him most, but he should not have to carry such a heavy burden.
With Barcelona getting healthy and the pressure easing off Messi a bit, they should grow even stronger. If guys like Mezut Ozil and Karim Benzema cannot become better leaders, Ronaldo may not be able to handle such pressure a second time.
Last season Sergio Ramos shifted seamlessly back to central defense after he was called upon to replace Ricardo Carvalho. His partnership with Pepe became one of the best in football.
The pairing worked very well despite some issues with positioning and Ramos getting too far forward. However, the bigger issue came in the air.
More so in the second half, the defense was terrible when covering set pieces and crosses. Almost across the board, Madrid's back four failed when the ball was put in the air.
Pepe has.always been a liability in the air despite his size. He is not a great man marker and often seems to just lose focus. Ramos also disregarded his duties far too often.