Real Madrid: a suspect defence that Zidane must address

Zinedine Zidane has seen his players concede goals in all but one of their ten games since the start of pre-season, including all three in LaLiga.

El gol de Moi Gómez que supuso el 2-1 en el Villarreal-Real Madrid.

"We are lacking everything. We have to score goals and be better defensively."  Casemiro's words after Real Madrid dropped two points in Villarreal were blunt, but accurate in their diagnosis. Niggling at Zinedine Zidane's performances in his second stint with the club are failures at both ends of the pitch.

Attack and defence: Real Madrid's double trouble

The worrying trend of conceding goals has dragged on from the start of pre-season. In the ten games played since then, made up of seven friendlies and three official league matches, Los Blancos have only managed to keep a clean sheet on one occasion, against Red Bull Salzburg. In total, the team has conceded 22 goals (2.2 per game) with almost a third of them coming in the 3-7 defeat against local rivals Atlético in New Jersey.

Bayern Munich scored three; Arsenal two; Tottenham one; Fenerbahçe three; and Roma two. In the opening three games in LaLiga, Madrid have shipped one each against Celta and Valladolid and two from Villarreal.

Real Madrid defensive stats in LaLiga 2019-2020

Statistic Value LaLiga ranking
Goals conceded 4 7th
Shots received 26 16th
Shots on target received 11 9th
% shots on target/total 42.3% 3th
% goals/total shots 15.4% 5th
% goals/shots on target 36.4% 7th
Goalkeeper saves 6 13th
Recoveries 175 1st

The team are having a huge problem closing their proverbial stable door and, if Zidane and the players aren't able to address that soon then the Liga horse will have long since bolted. They are the fifth team in terms of shots taken at the opposition goal in the league so far (26), but more troubling is the fact that they are third-placed team when it comes to opposing teams getting shots on target, with 42% of the total. Goals conceded come from a third of these on-target efforts and the rivals manage to transform 15% of their total shots, compared with 11.8% success from Los Blancos.

From the 20 clubs in the league, Courtois sits 13th for the number of saves he's made, six in total, and the seventh most conceded, behind Betis and Villarreal (8) and Barcelona, Granada, Eibar and Espanyol (5). This is despite the fact that Zidane's team leads the way on recoveries (175) and Sergio Ramos is the third highest individual in this with 29 recoveries. Courtois ratio of shots to saves (63.6%) is the seventh worst in the League.

A concerning change from the past

In contrast to the past, since the 2006/07 season, Madrid have always managed to keep their opposing strikers at bay for at least one of the first three matchdays of the season. In 2015/16, with the outgoing Keylor Navas in goal, three consecutive clean sheets were kept, something that the club has only achieved twice before (in 1957-58 and 1975-76).

Eyes open | Villarreal's Gerard Moreno opens the scoring against Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois.

Sin tituloEyes open | Villarreal's Gerard Moreno opens the scoring against Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois.

The start of the 2005/06 campaign was the last one where fans saw goals conceded in all three opening games, five in total, while in 2014/15 six were shipped, despite the first game being a comfortable 2-0 victory over Cordoba.

With the international break now upon him, Zidane has some additional time to consider how best to fix the problem at the back. He will, however, have to do this with many of his first team players away on duty.