Real Madrid’s success last season caught most observers by surprise, with few expecting Los Blancos to win both La Liga and the Champions League titles.
After what has been described as a disappointing summer transfer window, pundits are making similar noises this time around, despite Madrid’s relatively impressive start to the season and outstanding performance in their recent UCL game at Celtic Park.
But how are Los Blancos really shaping up this season, and can they retain their Champions League crown?
Madrid’s Performance so Far in 2022/23
Madrid have won all four La Liga matches so far this season, as they top the table by two points from rivals Barcelona and have scored 11 goals to date.
Their performance in Scotland also saw them hit three goals without reply, with even Eden Hazard showcasing signs of improved form having scored the final goal against Celtic following a slick passing move.
Madrid’s superb passing and movement was central to their opening day Champions League victory, with the dynamic Aurélien Tchouaméni anchoring the midfield and providing a more mobile presence than his predecessor Casemiro.
Flanked by the indefatigable Luka Modric and Toni Kross, Madrid bossed the midfield and seemingly kept possession at will, controlling the tempo of the game while providing a surprising goal threat in attack.
Then there’s the forward line, which has seen Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior combine to excellent effect once again this term.
Both of these forwards have scored four goals in six games across all competitions so far this season, Federico Valverde is continuing to impress quietly as a creative force in wide areas.
These signs auger well for Madrid, who have started the season in superb form and looked particularly outstanding in attack.
Could Madrid’s Defence Undermine a Champions League Tilt?
However, it’s interesting to note that Madrid have conceded a single goal in each of their four league matches so far this term, with their only clean sheet coming against Celtic in the UCL.
This may be due to the integration of Antonio Rudiger into the Madrid defensive line, as despite the immense quality of the player, the German international is having to compete with Eder Militao and David Alaba for a place in the side’s four-man defensive line.
There are also question marks over Rudiger’s ability to perform consistently and reliably in the back four, especially given his penchant for carrying the ball out of defence and stepping into midfield to win the ball aggressively.
It’s these defensive frailties that have clearly influenced the bookies, who have priced Madrid at 10/1 to retain their UCL crown and win their 14th title overall.
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However, there’s no doubt that Madrid will need to resolve their current inability to achieve clean sheets over time, despite the quality of their attack and immense individual brilliance.