Monday, 28 December 2015

12 months of Real ruin

It has been a dismal 2015 for Real Madrid, with one calamity after the other for 12 months. We recap them here.
It has been a dismal 2015 for Real Madrid, with one calamity after the other for 12 months. We recap them here.
Real Madrid, freshly crowned world champions, saw their 22-match winning streak in competitive action come to an abrupt end at the Mestalla. Things got even worse when Fernando Torres knocked the holders out of the Copa del Rey with a brace at the Bernabéu, just days after Cristiano Ronaldo had caused a stink with his almighty shriek at the Ballon d'Or gala.
The reverberations are still being felt from Cristiano's now-infamous birthday party the night that 'Los Blancos' were routed at the Calderón. The pictures and videos of Kevin Roldán rocking the stage alongside several players were the springboard for the collapse of Carlo Ancelotti's regime.

Real Madrid surrendered their advantage in La Liga following slip-ups at home to Villarreal and away to Athletic at San Mamés, before falling to Barça at the Camp Nou. However, it was in Europe, on what should have been the most comfortable night of the month, that things very nearly reached breaking point. Schalke visited Madrid trailing 2-0 from the two teams' meeting in Gelsenkirchen, but the Germans came within a whisker of dumping the 'Décima' winners out of the Champions League in the last 16, triumphing 4-3. The Bernabéu crowd erupted with more force than a volcano.
The only high point of the year: a Chicharito goal against Atlético sealed a Champions League semi-final berth. However, the injury plague reared its ugly head as news broke that Luka Modric would miss the remainder of the season.
Álvaro Morata knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League. The 'Los Blancos' academy graduate was the star performer over the two legs as he denied his boyhood club a Berlin showdown against old foes Barcelona. Iker Casillas endured a difficult end to the campaign in which, on several occasions, he reacted to the jeers he was subjected to from the Bernabéu faithful. The end of the month saw the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti.

Even the supposed new impetus brought about by Rafa Benítez's arrival at the helm didn't spell the end to the trauma. Relations between Sergio Ramos and the president were strained and threatened to implode as contract renewal talks showed no signs of nearing a successful conclusion. Even during the close season there was no lack of drama at the capital club.
Casillas bid farewell to the club he served for 25 years, sobbing as he said his goodbyes alone in the Bernabéu press room. The 'remake' the next day, in which the keeper was accompanied by Florentino Pérez, fooled nobody.

There were more lows than highs in pre-season, including a few misunderstandings between the coach and his stars, all of which culminated in the team kicking off the campaign with a whimper by being held 0-0 in Gijón.
The first day of the month marked the closure of the transfer window and made Real Madrid a laughing stock. After a whole summer of talks about David de Gea and with Keylor Navas all set to board a plane to Manchester, the deal to bring in another 'Galáctico' was scuppered because of a failure to complete the paperwork on time.
Benítez's first big game brought with it his first debacle. With his side leading 1-0 at the Calderón, Real sat back on their lead, which allowed Atlético to net an equaliser. The big names in the squad started to make their feelings known about the latest incumbent of the Bernabéu hotseat.
A bad, bad month, both on and off the field. Everything started when news broke that Karim Benzema had spent a night in police custody in Versailles. Next came the away defeat to Sevilla, followed by the 4-0 home trouncing in 'El Clásico'.

Real Madrid were booted out of the Copa del Rey for fielding the ineligible Denis Cheryshev away at Cádiz. For many the away reverse in Villarreal was just one too many as far as Rafa Benítez's reign was concerned. The month ended with a 10-2 rout against Rayo, which was greeted with boos from the home faithful. In sum, it has been a bleak, trophy-barren year for 'Los Blancos'.

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