There is currently more head-scratching than head-poaching going at Real Madrid as their aerial goal threat has dwindled. Last season in the attacking third Los Blancos did the basics extremely well: they attacked in numbers and at high speed, with two or three arriving in the area to finish off what they had started with either head or foot.
This season, however, things have changed, but not necessarily through a lack of striking options. Madrid's identity is currently scrambling around looking for a foothold. The heavy-duty counter-attacking and defensive solidity are both missing, and, in contrast to last season, they have been unable to fall back on the headed goals that saw them through and brought them such success.
Nine fewer headed goals than last season
This heading drought is down to a number of factors: the first is the absence of both Marcelo and Carvajal, who provide width and a higher quality final delivery - last season the Madrid full-backs managed 26 assists between them, a resource which has not been sustained by their replacements. The second lies in the form of Kroos, who only has three assists thus far, some distance away from the 17 he mustered in the 2016-17 season. Third, the departure of James, who had 13 assists to his name last year. Only Casemiro, who has scored with his head against Las Palmas and in Real's fortunate win over Málaga, has managed to keep up the standards set in the previous campaign - moreover, at this stage last year, Madrid had notched up 11 headed goals, three from Ramos, two from Bale and one apiece from Morata, Pepe, Asensio, Varane, Mariano and Benzema.