Will the real Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich please stand up?
The three European juggernauts have shared the last six Champions Leagues and their last four respective domestic league titles too.
So what gives this season?
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By now we’ve come to expect all three to dominate their divisions, particularly in Bayern’s case, without really having to get out of second gear.
Yet here we are, in mid October, and none of the titanic trio currently sit top of their leagues after a disastrous month by their lofty standards.
World Cup hangover? Maybe, but we’ve looked into where it’s all going wrong at the three biggest clubs on the continent…
The post-Ronaldo era reeks of uncertainty and questions so far.
Before Saturday evening Real had beaten Alaves nine games on the trot, but succumbed to a damaging and spiritless 1-0 defeat.
It means Los Blancos are winless and goalless in their last four games, their worst run in front of goal since the mid 80s.
Karim Benzema’s form is a microcosm of their recent issues as the enigmatic French striker has gone seven games without even managing a shot on target.
As well as losing to Alaves, they were handed their now inevitable annual battering at Sevilla and even went down to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League; a competition that usually provides respite.
Ronaldo is undeniably irreplaceable, with CR7 averaging 1.03 goals a game in his Real career and responsible for approximately a third of their goals.
But Real appear considerably more toothless than they should be in his absence.
It’s a minor miracle they still sit fourth and just a point off top spot this season, which speaks volumes about the rest of La Liga…
If you thought Barcelona would capitalise on Real’s recent capitulation, you’d be wrong.
It’s not Real nor Barca who sit at the La Liga summit but Sevilla instead, who dispatched the former a few weeks ago and play the latter immediately after the international break.
The Catalans are winless in four league games and succumbed to lowly Leganes a couple of weeks ago… who were rooted to the bottom at the time.
Like Real and Ronaldo, Barca have never been more reliant on the evergreen genius of Lionel Messi.
The Argentine maestro and Sergio Busquets were rested for the clash with Athletic Bilbao a few weeks ago but, after going 1-0 down, were introduced before the hour mark to salvage a point.
With Messi – who again scored a vital equaliser at Valencia on Sunday – they’re just about getting by, but without him they look bereft of ideas as pressure mounts on Ernesto Valverde.
Bayern are making Real and Barca’s seasons seem fairly rosy.
Considering the Bundesliga title race is usually signed, sealed and delivered by Christmas time the fact the Bavarian giants are currently languishing down in sixth is a real eye opener.
They weren’t just beaten, they were humiliated 3-0 at home by Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend to make it back to back heavy Bundesliga defeats.
Bayern were even lucky to escape with a point against Ajax in the Champions League in midweek, relying on a super human last ditch save from Manuel Neuer.
This is arguably their lowest ebb in eight years amid rumours of player animosity towards new boss Niko Kovac.
It didn’t stop the players going to Oktoberfest on Sunday… but can they really use the phone-a-Jupp-Heynckes lifeline for a third time?
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