As the Real Madrid players stood clueless in the middle of the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Zinedine Zidane was equally bemused on the sidelines looking to his technical bench for answers.
Overwhelmed by a ruthless first-half performance from Shakhtar Donetsk, Los Blancos were facing a humiliating defeat at home in their opening Champions League group game of the season.
The Ukrainian side raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half thanks to strikes from Tete, Manor Solomon and a Raphael Varane own goal. At this point, Madrid were left stretching their heads, as they had very little quality on the pitch to change the outcome.
The second half saw Real Madrid get better, with Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior ensuring that Zidane’s side lost the game 3-2, much more respectable than earlier anticipated.
What was evident, though, was the Spanish giants’ lack of squad depth. It was, therefore, no surprise that when Zidane decided to rotate his squad, the team saw a drastic drop in quality.
On Wednesday, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos were benched, while Luka Jovic and Federico Valverde were named in their place in the starting line-up. Aside from the aforementioned duo who came on in the second half as impact subs, Madrid’s bench inspired no confidence.
It’s now been two consecutive losses in the space of four days for Real Madrid, the first time the club has lost two games in a row under Zidane. Los Merengues lost 1-0 to La Liga newcomers Cadiz last weekend.
But they have only themselves to blame. Real Madrid’s transfer business in the summer was totally shambolic and lacked tact. The club failed to sign a single player despite allowing some important members of the squad to leave.
Gareth Bale was allowed to leave on loan to Tottenham Hotspur while James Rodriguez also departed for Everton. James, in particular, has been enjoying his time in Merseyside as Everton sit atop the Premier League table.
How a player with such quality was allowed to leave for a paltry fee typifies the disastrous transfer window that Real Madrid had.
“I see myself capable of fixing this, that’s what I’m going to try,” Zidane said after the Champions League loss to Shakhtar, as quoted by Goal.”The players are going to try, too. We are going to look for the solution and we’re going to find it. Now we have to prepare for Saturday’s game [away to Barcelona].”
However, the Frenchman is bound to soon realize that even the world’s best coaches need good materials to succeed. As it stands, Real Madrid’s squad is just not good enough and the team lacks the required depth and quality to compete both domestically and in Europe.
Real Madrid will be hoping to put on a better show in their blockbuster weekend clash against FC Barcelona, the first ‘El Clasico’ of the season.