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Real Madrid’s rise after Ronaldo

May 15, 2023
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In 2018 Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus for around 100 million Euros, and everyone was in shock as it was expected that he might finish his career for Madrid, but that did not happen as he had some differences with the president of the club Florentino Perez. Alongside Cristiano, Zinedine Zidane, the coach who led them to three champions league also left. Every football fan around the world thought that maybe Real will go again on the champions league drought that they had from 2002-2014. They will not win the UCL for at least another decade.

Their first season without Ronaldo is one of the worst in the club’s history, Julen Lopetegui was assigned as their manager who was sacked in October after the 5-1 hammering by Barcelona which was without Leo Messi. Suarez scored a hat trick in that match. They did qualify for the ro16 of the Champions League where they faced a dark horse team of Ajax, Real did win the away leg 1-2 but on the return leg in Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid was torn apart as they lost 4-1 and got humiliated. 

They were also knocked out by Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. The only trophy that they won that year was the Club World Cup. Zidane returned to coach them again in March and he would remain their manager for the next two seasons. With all the negatives there was one positive too as Karim Benzema started to take on the scoring responsibilities that Ronaldo left behind. 

Next year Zidane made Real Madrid a wall as they had the best defensive record in the league, conceding only twenty-five goals. That season Madrid finished the La Liga season with eighty-seven points, five above their arch-rivals Barcelona. It was like the team was already coming back into shape. Benzema again finished as the top scorer for them with twenty-one goals in the league and twenty-seven overall. They did not win anything else, but the league also looked like a miracle at that point. 

Eden Hazard was also signed from Chelsea, but injuries have haunted him for almost all of his Real Madrid career. In the 2020-21 season Real came very close to winning the league and UCL but came short in both of them as they lost the league on the last day of the season to Atletico Madrid and Chelsea knocking them out of the UCL semis. Before the start of the next season, Zidane left the managerial post because of his differences with the board, and then came Carlo Ancelotti who was the manager at the time of La Decima. Sergio Ramos, the club captain, also left for PSG. 

It was a season of comebacks and surprises, as Madrid did what they do best and that is grinding out results. They won the league and the UCL that season. In UCL they made comebacks against PSG, Chelsea, and Manchester City and then defeated Liverpool in the final, where Courtois was the Man of the Match. They just somehow someway won every game. The Vini-Benzema partnership was a big part of that, it also helped Benzema win his first Ballon d’Or who finished the season as the top scorer of La Liga and UCL and scored two crucial goals in hat-tricks in the knockout stages. He had forty-four goals in all competitions. 

This season Real Madrid is again doing amazing in the champion league as they are in the Semi-finals against City just like last year, although Xavi’s Barca is running away with the league. 

Real Madrid’s DNA is to just win and grind out results and that is what they do, the dependency that they had on Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer there and they perfectly came of that.