Toni Kroos Says Real Madrid Drop-off This Season Is 'Normal'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 23: Toni Kroos of Germany speaks to the media during a press conference ahead of their UEFA European Championship Qualifier match against the Netherlands at Johan Cruyff Arena on March 23, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said is it "normal" for the club to have dropped off this season following their recent success.

After three consecutive UEFA Champions League wins, Los Blancos will finish the season without a major trophy for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign.

Per AS, Kroos said: "It's true that this season, things haven't gone as well as we would have liked but, after three incredible seasons, it's normal to go through what we are going through at the moment. Now, all we can do is continue working hard so we can return to win again next season."

Real are well out of La Liga's title race, as they sit 12 points behind leaders Barcelona with 10 matches remaining.

Barca beat Real 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 2, three days after beating them 3-0 in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final.

On March 5, their hopes of winning the Champions League for the fourth year running were extinguished by Ajax, who romped to a 4-1 win in the second leg of their round of 16 clash.

The Guardian's Sid Lowe put their week in context:

Sid Lowe @sidlowe

Seven days, three home defeats, 8-1 agg score, all three competitions gone, one after other, cup, league, European Cup, season over on 5 March, the day before their birthday, Barça now historically better in clásicos 96-95... probably the worst week Real Madrid have ever had.

That Los Blancos have struggled to live up to their usual standard this season is perhaps unsurprising, particularly after they sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus last summer and their only attempt to replace him was to re-sign Mariano Diaz from Lyon.

Ronaldo averaged 50 goals a season in his nine campaigns at the Bernabeu, so it was an enormous ask of Real's squad to compensate for his absence with little reinforcement.

Football writer Colin Millar felt Ronaldo's departure was one of several contributing factors:

Colin Millar @Millar_Colin

Cristiano Ronaldo was the ultimate Champions League player, surrounded by loyal lieutenants. Leadership both on and off the pitch went last summer. Squad was left badly unbalanced, unstructured and without direction. Florentino Pérez, the president, holds too much power.

On top of losing Ronaldo, Real have made few additions in recent years that have improved their first-choice XI.

While that team delivered three consecutive Champions League titles, one or two recruits that could hold down a starting berth could have kept things fresh, particularly as Real's key players got older.

Luka Modric is now 33, while Sergio Ramos will reach that age on March 30, and Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Karim Benzema are between 29 and 31.

Provided they recruit well, a squad overhaul this summer could be just what Los Blancos need to resume challenging for top honours again next season.