Yesterday’s 1 – 4 home loss by Real Madrid to Ajax Amsterdam in the UEFA Champions League brings to an end the dominance of European and world football by a club that has won it all and has been home to many of the top football players planet earth has ever produced.
It is the worst defeat at home in Real’s European history.
There have been clear signs in the last couple of years that the Real we used to know is the not the Real we were watching now. Poor results in La Liga and Europe and being second best to Barcelona in the El Classico several years in a row were pointers to the dwindling performance and fortune of a team which has always had the winning spirit and attracted the best players to its fold in continuation of its Galacticos project.
After their poor results this season, it was clear they were not going to win the league and were out of the Copa del Rey so Real Madrid needed a good result last night. That was not be with a determined and youthful Dutch side who lost at home to Real just two weeks ago. They were well and truly beaten last night.
So, this is truly the end of an era.
Real Madrid is the most successful European club in international titles won with 25, more than any team in the world. The club’s record appearance maker is Raul who made 741 appearances from 1994 to 2010; the club’s record goalscorer is Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 450 goals in all competitions.
With Cristiano Ronaldo gone to Juventus last summer, the only big names or Galacticos around were maybe only Luka Modric,Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos.
33-year-old Ronaldo left the Bernabeu with his legacy secure as one of the club’s all-time greats, having won four Champions Leagues and four Ballons d’Or during his nine years in Madrid.
With all the trophies amassed by the club and expectations of more, despite playing football considered not as attractive as its old Catalian enemy, this must have been a strange period for the fans of the club who are used to big ball players like Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Iker Casillas, Ferenc Puskas, Brazilian Ronaldo, Alfredo di Stefano, Michael Owen and David Beckam.
What next at the Bernabeu?
There is an expectation of a complete change, both at manager and player levels. Who knows – it may even extend to the board level because fans must blame the president and his team for not giving them the Galacticos that have always provided fans with the dream team they are used to. Whoever thought that journey men and youth players will provide the backbone of a Real Madrid team?
Many fans must have been biting their nails in the first months of this season when their club could hardly string league wins together, making them drop down to 8th on the table at a time, prompting fears of not qualifying for Europe – something unheard of previously.
Even now, though they are 3rd on the La Liga table, Madrid is a massive 12 points behind leaders Barcelona and 5 behind second-placed city rivals Athletico Madrid, with Getafe and Alaves breathing down their neck in 4th and 5th places.
Hitherto unknown clubs have come to the Bernabeu this season and beaten the once invincible Real at their backyard.
How are the mighty fallen!
Image credit: internet-sportclubs.com
Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.