We’ve been here before.
Real Madrid are stumbling. A season in which it looked impossible to fail is rapidly falling apart.
But if the early signs were ominous, the fact that exactly the same happened 13 years ago, in the 2003/04 season, is even spookier.
Christmas came five months early for Chelsea
Why are we opening an article about Madrid’s troubles by talking about Chelsea?
Because both the Madrid of 03/04 and the current side sold Chelsea some absolute gems, leaving many scratching their heads.
In 03/04 Madrid shipped Claude Makelele (and Geremi) off to Chelsea despite the protests of his team-mates, including Zinedine Zidane.
Fast forward 14 years and Zizou was selling Alvaro Morata to The Blues, leaving Madrid relying on 20-year-old Borja Mayoral in case of emergency.
The Two Ronnies
Madrid 03/04 weren’t short of a star or two.
David Beckham arrived from Man United in the summer to add to a squad already boasting Zidane, Raul, Luis Figo, Iker Casillas, Roberto Carlos and Guti.
But the main man was Ronaldo, who’d scored 30 goals in 44 games in the previous season after joining from Inter Milan.
Those numbers look fairly pedestrian compared to the leader of the new school, Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s scored 413 goals in 405 Madrid games to date.
Pushing local talent
Madrid were still basking in the light of Zidanes y Pavones in 2003, which saw Galacticos combine with Spanish natives and local academy products.
Hence why Francisco Pavon, Javier Portillo, Antonio Nunez, Alvaro Mejia and a certain Roberto Soldado shared a pitch with Ronaldo and co.
Zidane has integrated a similar policy- although slightly more expensively assembled- showing James Rodriguez, Pepe and Danilo the door in favour of Jesus Vallejo, Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente.
Madrid have also moved to snap up Spain’s brightest talents, in the shape of Isco and Marco Asensio.
Starting with silverware
No club has won the Spanish Super Cup more times than Madrid, who lifted the trophy in both 2003 and 2017.
Madrid had to come from behind in 2003 when a goal from ex-Madridista Samuel Eto’o helped Mallorca to a 2-1 first-leg lead.
The second-leg in the Bernabeu saw David Beckham score his first Madrid goal, with Raul and Ronaldo also netting in a 3-0 win.
This season’s success was much more straightforward as Zizou’s Madrid saw off a Neymar-less Barcelona 7-1 on aggregate.
The cursed V
So the season kicks off. Madrid 03/04 and the current crop ease to wins against Real Betis and Deportivo La Coruna respectively.
But in the very next game both Carlos Queiroz’s side and Zizou’s outfit trip up and draw.
The connection? V. Valencia and Villareal. Both draws also relied on goals scored in the last ten minutes to rescue a draw.
Wheels fall off at the same time
Week five won’t be remembered fondly by Queiroz or Zidane, as both tasted their first league defeat of the season at the same time.
In September 2003 Madrid were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Valencia, following goals from Mista and Ricardo Oliveira.
Fourteen years on and Zidane’s side fell to a shock 1-0 loss at home against Betis to end a run of 73 successive games in which Madrid had scored.
What happened next?
Following the defeat to Valencia Queiroz’s Madrid only lost twice in their next 23 league games.
But five successive defeats meant Madrid finished fourth in La Liga, while also losing the final of the Copa del Rey against Real Zaragoza and crashing out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals.
We can’t tell you what’ll happen next for the current Madrid side, but if history repeats itself then it’s good news for Barcelona and the rest of Spain.
Time to get the white hankies out?
More bitesize tales from around the world:
Thought supporters of third division German side Magdeburg would amount to one man and his dog?
Think again. Just look how they welcomed Borussia Dortmund when the pair met.
Talking of fans, if you’re going to sneak into a different section of Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera stadium you better have been dieting.
Wonder how long he was stuck there for?
And finally, the world wished Diego Maradona a very happy 57th birthday.
You can be sure he celebrated in style.