Struggling Real Madrid Face Tough Holiday Schedule
Having dominated European football with three consecutive Champions League triumphs in as many seasons, the current campaign in domestic Spanish football has been far from satisfactory for Real Madrid, who have struggled to reach the same heights this term.
After the sudden and surprising departure of their talismanic manager, Zinedine Zidane, the Spanish giants turned to Spain coach Julen Lopetegui amidst much controversy, as he prepared the national team for their 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia. Sacked by the Spanish Federation and settling into the Bernabeu hotseat, his tenure at the club was short-lived after a disastrous run of results.
Lopetegui was sacked and replaced by RM Castilla coach, Santiago Solari, who seemed have coaxed winning form out of his players following his appointment, but the doubts returned following a dismal 3-0 defeat away at Basque minnows Eibar, leaving the team still off the pace in the fight for the title in La Liga. Nevertheless, Real Madrid bounced back with a 2-0 home win against Valencia, but fans remained unhappy, jeering and whistling underperforming Welsh star Gareth Bale when he was substituted in the second half, despite the player starring against Roma a few days earlier.
Despite consternation from fans and pundits for leaving the supremely talented Isco benched in recent games, even with key players such as Bale enduring a disappointing run of form, Solari has been praised by Marca for introducing more young players in his team selections of late. The challenge for youngsters such as Sergio Reguilon, Fede Valverde and Marcos Llorente, will now be whether they can cope with the gruelling schedule of upcoming games.
Followers of English football are used to the frantic run of fixtures during the months of December and January, however, in most of Europe and including Spain, there’s usually a short winter break in the domestic schedule. Fans of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid or Sevilla might be twiddling their thumbs over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, looking to see what bitstarz has to offer with games such as Football Superstars or browsing the latest La Liga betting odds, enough to keep them busy while their teams aren’t playing any matches.
Meanwhile, supporters of Real Madrid will no doubt be poring through the fixture list on Spanish-based mobile apps like besoccer.com, given their team will barely have time to pause during the traditional winter holidays. The final La Liga match of 2018 for Los Blancos is a Madrid derby against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday 15th December, before departing for the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, aiming to become the first team ever to lift the trophy for three consecutive tournaments.
Real Madrid will play in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup on Wednesday 19th December, at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Depending on the outcome, they will then play either in the final or 3rd/4th place play-off on Saturday 22nd December. After a short break for Christmas and the New Year, Real Madrid will then catch up to their competitors in La Liga by playing their rescheduled Matchday 17 fixture at Villarreal on Thursday 3rd January.
Just a few days later and without the benefit of any pause the other Spanish teams will have enjoyed, Real Madrid then take on Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu, during the traditional Reyes (Three Kings) holiday weekend of 6th January celebrated in Spain. Aiming to put themselves back in the title race, the side managed by Solari will be hoping to push themselves back towards the top end of the table in La Liga, where Barcelona and Sevilla have been trading places for much of the campaign so far.