Real Madrid: 3 Players That Have Disappointed Early in the Season
For a club like Real Madrid, it's never okay to have this kind of run, even if it's early on in the season. They are simply too big and have too much money on the pitch to have more draws and losses than wins after seven matches.
In the Spanish league there are really only two teams that ever compete for the top spot. Real and Barcelona are constantly vying for position while the rest of the league is playing for third place.
That would be fine for Real since they drew with Barcelona in the first El Classico of the season last weekend. Unfortunately, this season teams are a lot more competitive and currently Real's crosstown rival, Atletico Madrid, is nipping at the heels of Barcelona where Real should be.
There are a number of people who can be blamed for the appalling start, but ultimately it is a team game and thus a team result.
Let's try and point a few fingers and figure out just why this season has already gone south for Los Blancos.
Mesut Ozil rose to the fore after a superb display for his German national side in the most recent world cup.
He was an instant hit with his technical ability, creativity on the ball and his superb vision. Just after the world cup, Real Madrid came knocking and Ozil answered.
Since then, he's been a hit at Real and has been the creative spark that Jose Mourinho loves to have in a midfielder.
Since signing in 2010, Ozil has been the definition of consistent. In each of the last two seasons, the German star has started 30 games, provided 17 assists and averaged five goals.
This season, in five starts in seven games, Ozil has only one assist, zero goals and only one shot on goal. He's attempted more than 30 shots in each of his seasons with Real, only three so far this season.
The 23-year-old has seemingly fallen out of favor with Mourinho and hasn't been given the nod to start as often as he had in previous seasons. He's not started a single Champions League match yet.
With the addition of Luka Modric from Spurs this season and Kaka starting to find his form again, Ozil might be the odd man out if he continues to be a no-show.
Mourinho is brilliant and unforgiving. If he feels he cannot get anymore out of Ozil, then he will drop him like he would a ton of bricks.
There is no denying Ozil's ability, but creative midfielders is one area where Real and Mourinho are not lacking.
Over the years, it's been very difficult to find fault with Sergio Ramos on the pitch. He is one of the best defenders in the world for both club and country.
Unfortunately, Ramos is most easy to blame for his part in dropping eight points in the first three matches of the season. Poetically, Real Madrid now sits eight points behind Barcelona on the table.
In their first league match of the season against Valencia, it was Ramos who left Jonas Oliveira unmarked in the box on a set piece. Ramos just watched the ball sail overhead and did nothing whatsoever to stop Jonas from connecting and sending it past Iker Casillas.
Rule No. 1 in soccer: Don't leave a Brazilian unmarked on a set piece.
That goal resulted in the season opener ending as a draw, and Real essentially dropping two points out of the gate.
In the following game, Real lost 2-1 to Getafe. The decisive goal for Getafe came in the 75th minute as Xavi Torres picked out Adrian Colunga on the wing. Colunga exploded past his defender and as Ramos came to close him down, he left Abdelaziz Barrada unmarked. Colunga took advantage and slipped the ball to Barrada who was 1-on-1 with Casillas by that point.
Surely Ramos couldn't be at fault three games in a row?
Unfortunately, yes. Once more on a set piece, a corner kick this time, Ramos mistimed his jump to deflect the incoming ball, which landed at a Sevilla player's feet and he drilled it into the upper netting.
Since those mishaps, Ramos was left out of the squad for the exciting Champions League matchup with Manchester City, he has been under constant media scrutiny and he even allegedly challenged Mourinho's authority by wearing Mesut Ozil's jersey underneath his own in the 5-1 romping of Deportivo La Coruña, according to Goal.com.
While Ramos has seemed to find his form again, his contribution in dropping those eight points might prove to be fatal by season's end.
Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria is off to a very slow start this season.
He's played in all seven La Liga games so far and started in six. He's only bagged one goal and netted one assist thus far.
While Di Maria isn't the most prolific scorer, he did have 15 assists for 16 starts last season. One in six won't get it done for Real Madrid if they hope to catch Barcelona this year.
His poor numbers haven't come from a lack of trying, as he's taken 12 shots. Unfortunately, only two of those 12 shots have been on goal, a far cry from his 21 of 49 numbers last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have all been scoring, so this isn't the biggest problem Real Madrid have faced this season.
If Real are going to do something they've never done before—catch Barcelona while trailing by eight points in the Ronaldo/Messi era—then they better be firing on all cylinders, and that includes Angel Di Maria.
Di Maria is every bit as talented as Benzema or Higuain, if not more. He better get back to last season's form sooner rather than later, otherwise Ronaldo might be sad again.
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