Real Madrid's worrying lack of firepower

Real Madrid have failed to score in 17% of the games during Zidane's second tenure at the club, in comparison to 9% during his first reign with Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad.

Real Madrid's worrying lack of firepower
AFP7 vía Europa Press

Real Madrid's frustrating 0-0 draw at Osasuna was further evidence of the weaknesses that lie from the midfield onwards.

Led by Sergio Ramos, who has hit cruising speed, and Raphael Varane, who has put the Manchester debacle firmly behind him, Madrid’s defence already resembles that of the post-lockdown last season, providing that security at the back that was the basis on which the league title was won. Just three goals conceded in the last nine games can attest to this. The problem, then, appears to be putting goals passed opponents.

Out of eight shots against Osasuna, Madrid managed just one on target, which was the work of Marco Asensio, who was the sharpest of the Madrid attackers on the evening. Karim Benzema had two goals disallowed for offside as the Frenchman has entered a new scoring drought. The veteran striker, who has now gone three games without a goal, looked disconnected against Osasuna and was outdone by the home side’s impeccable defence at every turn.

Eden Hazard in action against Osasuna.

It is the third of the last 18 league games in which Madrid have gone without scoring, meaning that Los Blancos have failed to get on the scoreboard in one of every six games. That is a worrying precedent for a team that scored in 73 consecutive games during a prolific run from the end of the 2015-16 season to the start of the 2017-18 season. Zidane was on the bench and several of the current members of the squad were part of that run. However, it was a different time, with Cristiano Ronaldo inflating Madrid’s stats with his unstoppable voracity.

Real Madrid before and after Ronaldo

Madrid have gone eight games without scoring in the 86 encounters played since the start of Zidane’s second tenure (17%). During the French coach’s first reign, Madrid failed to find the net in just 9 of 149 games played (6%). The obvious cause of this downturn is the departure of Ronaldo, who averaged 50 goals a season.

Los Blancos have scored just 30 goals in their last 18 league games (1.7 per game on average), the second worst showing after 18 games since 2007, with the worst being the 26 scored in 2018-19, precisely the first season without the Portuguese star.

Looking at the stats over the calendar years really paints the picture. In 2017, Madrid scored 156 goals; in 2018 (with Ronaldo in the team until his departure in June) they scored 142; in 2019 they managed 100 goals; nine more than the 91 scored in 2020 (the worst figure since 2005). That translates to a staggering 40% drop in three years.

During his time in the Madrid bench, Carlo Ancelotti said of Ronaldo: “When he plays, it's like we're starting at 1-0. It sounds like a joke, but it's the reality.” Ancelotti knew what he was talking about, considering Madrid have scored almost one goal less per game on average since Ronaldo left. Los Blancos scored 1,385 goals in 503 games with Cristiano in the squad, an average of 2.7 per game, in comparison to the 1.8 goal-per-game average (241 goals in 136 games) in the post-CR7 era.