Real Madrid will look to improve upon last season’s results when they open the new LaLiga season on Saturday away to Athletic Bilbao.
However, a key departure and an unexpected absence has Los Blancos facing some uncertainty heading into the start of the new season.
Real Madrid finished well behind Barcelona last season
Real Madrid came in second last season but finished 10 points behind Barcelona. The Catalan side essentially wrapped up the title with a decent number of games in hand. Had they not take their foot off the pedal in the final matches, that difference could have been larger.
The objective at a club like Madrid is to win every trophy possible, including LaLiga. Undoubtedly, they’ll look to rebound in a significant way and knock Barcelona off their perch.
It’ll be a different team than supporters and rivals are used to seeing, however.
It’s been another relatively calm summer transfer window for the Spanish giants. Brahim Diaz and Fran Garcia both returned to the club, they also brought in Joselu and, of course, their marquee signing of Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund.
Garcia is set to serve as cover in the left-back position and Diaz the same with Diaz in midfield. Bellingham was brought in to be the new anchor in midfield alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, representing a generational shift from the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, despite the veterans still being part of the team.
Whether that will be enough to overtake Barcelona and lead them to Champions League glory remains to be seen.
Karim Benzema was one of Madrid’s best players the last couple of seasons so it was a bit of a shock when he decided to not sign a new deal and instead move to a club in Saudi Arabia. Both sides may have felt it was time for a change. Regardless of how one looks at it, however, it’s a step down in now having to rely on Joselu.
An unexpected absence, though not a departure, is that of Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian keeper suffered an ACL injury, requiring surgery, meaning he’ll likely miss the entire season.
It’s not an exaggeration to say Courtois and Benzema rescued Real Madrid on plenty on occasions over the years. They’ll no longer be able to count on them this season to pull them out of the fire.
Bringing in Bellingham is great, but Madrid may end up missing Benzema and Courtois most of all.
Madrid are Madrid so they are going to be one of the favorites, if not the favorite, in any competition they are in. Though they do have some question marks despite their history and additions that they’ve made.
Then there is the Carlo Ancelotti situation where the Italian manager has been continually linked with the Brazil job and only has one year left on his contract. How he handles any adversity, especially early on, is going to something to watch out for.
LaLiga is a league where dropping points at any point of the season feels like the end of the world for Real Madrid given their expectations. They cannot afford to fall too behind early especially considering their first opponent won’t be easy in the form of Athletic Bilbao.