Champions League Taking Its Toll on Form of Real Madrid World Cup Stars

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2014

Robben embarrassed Ramos.
Robben embarrassed Ramos.Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Real Madrid's Champions League winners would have liked to use their success as a springboard for the World Cup, but it hasn't turned out like that so far. In fact, with the exception of Karim Benzema, no Los Blancos star has truly impressed at the tournament so far.

Luka Modric put in a reasonable display for Croatia against Brazil in the opening game, but his team were still defeated 3-1. However, the midfielder has a chance to improve on that showing Wednesday night against Cameroon.

In the opening game Marcelo kicked the tournament off in terrible fashion for Real Madrid players, scoring an own goal, the first strike of the tournament. His second game was no better, with Brazil struggling to overcome Mexico and eventually taking one point in a goalless draw.

Marcelo has had a rough time of it.
Marcelo has had a rough time of it.Andre Penner/Associated Press

Playing a long season, culminating in that triumph in Lisbon over rivals Atletico Madrid clearly took its toll on the Portguese contingent at the club. Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao all had an awful day against Germany during their nation's 4-0 defeat, and all for different reasons.

Coentrao went off injured and has been ruled out of the tournament, Pepe went berserk and was sent off for pushing his head into Thomas Muller's and Ronaldo was simply awful. His performance was summed up by a free-kick which he struck low and straight at the one-man wall.

Pepe going berserk.
Pepe going berserk.Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

Pepe and Coentrao will miss Portugal's upcoming match against the U.S., but Ronaldo will hope to do better. Sami Khedira is likely pleased to have completed the 90 minutes and played reasonably well, but it was against a pathetic Portugal and he had little to do.

Two players that have thrived under Carlo Ancelotti at Madrid have had mixed fortunes so far, with Angel di Maria wasteful against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Benzema a key contributor for France.

The Argentine had plenty of the ball but was uncharacteristically profligate with it. Benzema, on the other hand, showed the benefits of his superb season with a brace against Honduras and a huge hand in the other goal. Raphael Varane also played in France's 3-0 win but could have given away a penalty.

We know Di Maria is better than this.
We know Di Maria is better than this.Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

The most miserable trio, though, played for Spain in their 5-1 defeat by the Netherlands. Iker Casillas had a horrendous game in goal, Sergio Ramos was just as bad at centre-back and Xabi Alonso should be ashamed of his display in midfield.

They have a chance to correct that Wednesday night against Chile, with Spain fighting to stay in the competition. Spain will need to show the fighting spirit that led Real Madrid to Champions League success if they are to defend their world-champion status.