Real Madrid recent played out a no-goal draw with Norwegian side Valerenga in their penultimate pre-season friendly. The match concluded, leaving the Spanish team with a dreadful problem.
In their issues coming out, AS offered its readers with an eerie statistic: Madrid have failed to find the back of the net in their last two (friendly) matches, something that has not happened at the club since September 2011.
Such desperate statistics certainly brings home tons of concern from the press, pundits and the fans alike, giving that Real Madrid has only the outing in their annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy versus Galatasaray on August 18th to hopefully rectify everything before the new season.
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Such goal droughts should not have been a big trouble, had it not been for all the superstars playing for Real Madrid.
Over the years, the white side of Madrid has always taken pride in their magnificent attackers, with household names like Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, and the greatest of them all, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ironically, today attacking business turned out to be Benitez's worst riddle.
This goal drought is undoubtedly resulted from Benitez's effort to rebuild the team. His little experiment with Bale at the heart of the offensive game has so far proved to be unsuccessful. The Welshman is Real's weakest link throughout the whole pre-season actions.
Except from his outstanding performance versus Tottenham Hotspur, Bale's overall rating is just a little above mediocre. Rafael Benitez has been doing his best to keep his office-winning promise of revitalising Gareth Bale by putting the Welsh winger at the centre of his strategy.
However, Bale does not seem to fit in too well with the playmaker role, having failed miserably every chance he had. Rumours and speculations pointed towards Cristiano Ronaldo and his bad influence which prevented Bale from reaching his potential; however, it is worth noting that the Portuguese superstar was absent from the matches where Bale took the lead.
Throughout the whole pre-season period, Ronaldo and Benzema had altogether one goal, leaving Real Madrid having to count on names like Jese and Denis Cheryshev.
While this is the proof for an improvement in quality for Real Madrid's backup squad, it also showed that Benitez is having a tough time putting together an acceptable first-team squad.
With a new season approaching fast, it seems that Benitez will have to work even harder to make his team work.