The decline started on the pitch at Kiev's Olympic stadium after the final with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale casting doubts on their future.
A year after Real Madrid saw off Liverpool in Kiev on May 26, 2018 the decline experienced by the club has been dramatic. The cracks even started to appear no sooner had the final whistle sounded after the famous win with both Cristiano and Gareth Bale casting doubt on their future commitment to the club with Zinedine Zidane shocking the global footballing world less than a week later when the French coach announced his resignation.
Having been eclipsed by Benzema and Bale on the Kiev pitch, Cristiano looked for to be the protagonist in front of the media with his post match comments: His "it was nice to be here and I'll give answer in a few days" comments were in fact preludes to his exit from the Bernabeu. The Portuguese striker was true to his words announcing his departure to Juventus on July 10. Weeks went by as Madrid scoured the market for a replacement and with the task proving fruitless, the club began to position Gareth Bale as the focal striker at the club.
Bale's trajectory, from Kiev hero to transfer listed
Gareth Bale was also involved in ambiguous comments on the Olympic stadium pitch in the Ukraine capital. The Welshman had bagged two of the three goals on the night and was voted as the Player of the Game. "Maybe I'll stay, maybe I'll go" stated the Cardiff born player to the media post-game much to the surprise of Madrid fans around the world.
Bale was already irritated to be on the subs bench for the Kiev final and facing another season with Zizou as coach was something the striker was far from relishing, later admitting last March: "Zidane didn't speak with me after the final, in fact we've not spoken since that game. We had a strictly professional relationship and I was truly frustrated in Kiev to have not been selected to start the game".
With Zidane now back at Real Madrid it's clear that the Welsh player plays no rule in his future plans despite Bale maintaining that he has no plans to leave.
Keylor, Marcelo questioned...
Other key players have also seen a downward turn in their playing trajectory at the club this season. From heroes in Kiev, the likes of Marcelo, Kroos, Modric and Isco have delivered possibly their most disappointing collective season in the famous white shirt whilst Keylor Navas is poised for an exit from the club this summer.
Three coaches and Barça dominating LaLiga...
After finally securing the services of Julen Lopetegui as replacement for Zidane in controversial circumstances, Real Madrid suffered their first major setback of the season in the Estonian capital losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atlético. After labouring in LaLiga, Perez sacked the Basque coach replacing him with Solari who papered over the evident cracks with a win at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup but the Argentine was unable to lift the team in key battles with his time being called after a dreadful week for the club in a week which saw Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of FC Barcelona, a home defeat to the Catalans in LaLiga and a subsequent exit in the Champions League when Ajax outclassed the side at the Bernabeu.
The Champions League exit was the final straw for Florentino who managed to convince Zidane to return for a second spell on the bench with the anticipated hope of lifting the side. This failed to materiales as his Madrid team with nothing to play for eventually ending the campaign 19 points behind Barcelona in LaLiga (a record).
Ramos exit II
Just when it felt that the season couldn't get any worse for Real Madrid fans, El Chiringuito broke the news that captain Sergio Ramos was contemplating an exit from the club with apparent offers on the table for his services from China and Juventus. A similar situation occurred back in 2015 and the summer ahead will certainly offer plenty of twists and turns ahead in "Sergio Ramos exit" Volume II...