Defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League has put Zinedine Zidane in a difficult position, under serious pressure to turn results around with his next task being the small matter of the Clasico, yet the French coach isn't without blame for the situation as he has made five grave mistakes.
1. Poor planning with regards to team building
On this point the responsibility is shared with Florentino Perez, but it's no secret that Los Merengues lost multiple assets during the summer transfer window and only added to their group by bringing Martin Odegaard and Alvaro Odriozola back from their loan spells.
Ironically, both players are injured so haven't been able to contribute practically anything so far this term.
2. Isco and James, a comparison that hurts Zidane
Whilst the Colombian midfielder has become one of the biggest stars of the 2020/21 Premier League season, Isco, who should in theory do the same thing at Real Madrid, has been widely criticised for his poor performances.
What is now questioned is just how Zidane handled the James case, a player to whom he gave no confidence. He bet on Isco and so far this has looked like a poor decision.
3. Zidane's blind trust in Marcelo
Marcelo has been one of Real Madrid's great players of the modern era, yet his time at the club should have come to an end before now. He has been on the decline for at least two seasons and he has been at the heart of the team's last two defeats.
He is making defensive errors that have cost the team and doesn't contribute in attack any longer, yet Zidane continues to give him key minutes.
4. The sales of Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilon
Once again, this is a mistake with shared responsibility between the coach and the technical department headed by Perez.
Los Blancos needed to bring money into the club during the summer, and lots of it, so the decision was made to sell Achraf for 40 million euros and Reguilon for just under 30m euros.
These two players had been with the club since they were nine years old, yet fans are seeing them both thrive away from Madrid, despite them playing into the two most problematic positions within Zidane's team at this moment.
5. Jovic, Odegaard and Vinicius Jr create too much doubt
Zidane has his favoured selection of players who will always be starters if they're available: Courtois, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric and Benzema. Yet, there is a group of individuals below that who don't feel the same confidence from the coach.
Zidane has too much doubt in players that he hasn't won with, and this is then reflected in their performances when they get a rare outing on the pitch.
Luka Jovic has gone from being told he can leave, to starting in a Champions League match. Vinicius Jr is dropped and recalled to the team with regularity, whilst Rodrygo and Odegaard have also not done enough to convince the coach.
This lack of confidence comes across in matches, and thus we see a lot of disjointed performances for Real Madrid, especially in matches where the French coach is trying to rotate. He doesn't like rotating and the players who are brought in can feel that coldness.
Source: Marca / Carlos González - Chris Winterburn