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The toughest thing to do in football is to repeat success. Whilst this sounds a little foolish taken at face value it is undoubtedly true. No side in the history of the Champions League, for instance, has ever managed to win back to back titles. Only Chelsea and Manchester United have achieved the feat since the Premier League began over 20 years ago. Having finally won ‘la decima’ last season, Real Madrid will find it much tougher this time round.
After eventually achieving the obsession that had gripped the club for a decade following up that success is always going to be difficult. The club has made some substantial additions to the squad over the summer transfer window but bizarrely it is the players that they have lost that appear to have weakened them.
With two of their most influential players in Alonso and Di Maria both leaving the club within a fortnight of each other, Cristiano Ronaldo has even questioned their departures in the media. Whilst the common consensus of Ronaldo single handedly carrying Real on his shoulders carries a little weight, those who have watched them over recent seasons know better.
Alonso has been the chief architect in the side since his arrival from Liverpool. He has been the dependable and consistent player they have needed in the middle of the pitch, who is able to dictate the game with his fabulous passing range. His experience and knowhow was paramount in their Champions League success last year and his nous will be missed hugely. The head coach Carlo Ancelotti certainly has several options, but when he sees Alonso playing for Bayern Munich he will still secretly wish he was organising his team.
Much has been made of Di Maria’s departure and none will feel his loss as much as Ronaldo. Indeed, it was the Portuguese player who spoke out last summer regarding rumours of the Argentine’s exit from Madrid. However, this summer he could not stand in his friend’s way. Di Maria was sensational in the Champions League final and has been assisting Ronaldo seemingly at will over the last few seasons. His ability to move between the midfield and defensive lines when attacking at speed has made him one of the most influential players in the game.
Losing two such players would likely cripple many of the leading teams in European football. However, Real Madrid is not exactly your stereotypical club. This summer they have signed Hernandez from Manchester United on loan and added the permanent signatures of Kroos, Navas and Rodriguez to really strengthen their squad. They have begun the season as favourites for the Primera Division and will be serious contenders for the Champions League.
Refreshing the squad after a period of success is not out of the ordinary. What remains doubtful though is the effect it could have on the remainder of the squad if they fall on tough times. Having lost 4-2 to Real Sociedad last weekend, having been two nil up, does suggest that there could be some fragility to their team. It is still incredibly early to predict outcomes, but it will certainly be something to watch out for in the coming months.
The ability to maintain success is one that even the elite managers have struggled to achieve over the years. Whilst freshening up the team in order to repeat the success is a very sensible idea, the departures of Alonso and Di Maria could have a huge bearing on Madrid’s season.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980
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