Real Madrid: Question marks over Zidane's squad revamp
So far, Real Madrid have spent 298 million euros on summer sigings, but only one, Eden Hazard, is due to go into Zinedine Zidane's starting XI.
What had been advertised as a full-scale summer revamp is now surrounded by major question marks.
Only Hazard likely to be added to starting line-up
Real Madrid have spent a club-record 298m euros to sign Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Éder Militao, Rodrygo Goes and Ferland Mendy - but of that quintet, only Hazard has been brought to the Bernabéu to go into the starting XI. Other than the Belgian, there has been no change to last season's team, whose chances of winning major silverware were over by March. In Vinicius (19), Brahim Díaz (19), Rodrygo (18), Takefusa Kubo (18), Federico Valverde (21) and Jovic (21), moreover, Los Blancos now have an abundance of unestablished, unproven youngsters.
Has rebuild delivered new 'Segunda Unidad'...?
When Zidane returned to the Bernabéu dugout in March, he mapped out a plan mirroring that of Madrid's LaLiga and Champions League-winning season - a domestic and European double that the club had not previously managed for 59 years. Zidane's analysis of that successful campaign led to one key conclusion: that the depth of that squad ensured that the substitutions he was able to make rarely failed to improve the team; that he pretty much had two high-quality starting line-ups within one first-team group.
There can be little arguing with that: behind a first-choice XI of Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, Madrid had a whole host of dependable replacements: Pepe, Isco, Marco Asensio, James Rodríguez, Álvaro Morata, Mateo Kovacic, Danilo, Lucas Vázquez, Fabio Coentrao... With millions and millions of talent on the bench, Madrid had the best squad in Europe.
Zidane's famous 'Segunda Unidad' played a crucial role in not only securing Madrid's 33th Spanish title, but also keeping the regular starters fresh for the final stages of the Champions League. There were key games that stick out in everyone's memory, such as the 6-2 win over Deportivo La Coruña at Riazor (where Barcelona had lost), the 4-2 victory at Leganés and the triumphs at Eibar (4-1), Sporting Gijón (3-2) and Granada (4-0)... Each and every one of these results came on the road.
At grounds where, as the saying goes, league titles are won, Morata showed his hunger for goals, Lucas Vázquez never stopped running, Isco conjured up his magic, Kovacic covered every blade of grass.. Zidane has all that etched in his memory. So far, however, the squad that has resulted from Real Madrid's rebuild of the past few months is well short of having two top-class XIs...