Real Madrid Season Preview 2020/21 – Can Los Blancos end 13-year Wait for back-to-back Titles?

Real Madrid season preview

Real Madrid head into this campaign in buoyant mood having ended the 2019/20 season so strongly to clinch the title. With Barcelona in crisis, they’ll be favourites to claim back-to-back titles for the first time since 2008. Read on for our Real Madrid season preview.


Last Season – 1st

Real Madrid’s 2019/20 title success may not be remembered as one of the most enthralling of their 34 league wins. At times it was anything but, yet they showed a consistency and resilience that has often been lacking in recent years, reeling off 10 straight victories following the restart to overhaul Barcelona and win LaLiga with a game to spare.

Rival fans will point to refereeing calls consistently going their way but overall Los Blancos were worthy champions with Zinedine Zidane once again working his magic as Real bounced back well from the misery of the 2018/19 campaign. The biggest shift was at the back with just 25 goals conceded in LaLiga last term compared to 46 the previous year as Real Madrid finished with the Spanish top flight’s best defensive record.


Real Madrid Summer Transfers

Players IN

None

Players OUT

Achraf Hakimi | to Inter | €40m

Óscar Rodríguez | to Sevilla | €13.5m

Reinier | to Borussia Dortmund | LOAN

Jesús Vallejo | to Granada | LOAN

Miguel Baeza | to Celta Vigo | €2.5m

Take Kubo | to Villarreal | LOAN

Dani Gómez | to Levante | €2.5m

Jorge de Frutos | to Levante | €2.5m

Javi Sanchez | to Real Valladolid | €3m

(Transfers up to 31st August 2020.)


Coach –  Zinedine Zidane

They call it ‘La flor de Zidane’ in Spain. While there are those that continue to question his managerial abilities and tactical nous, Zinedine Zidane’s record for winning trophies as Real Madrid boss is absolutely extraordinary. He finally lost his first Champions League knockout tie in 2019/20, but if anything his legend grew further with a Spanish league and Supercopa taking his Real Madrid coaching trophy haul to 11.

With Barcelona seemingly in disarray, the odds on him adding to that tally this season look high. Zidane’s biggest challenge as Real Madrid prepare for the new campaign may be ensuring that complacency does not set in. While their end of season form was impressive, they were only edging games, often by single goal margins, and a slight slip in standards could still have serious consequences.


Possible Real Madrid Line Up 2020/21

Real Madrid line up 2020/21

While Real Madrid have not officially signed anybody this summer, their squad will still be bolstered by some fresh options with players returning from loan deals. Martin Ødegaard returns after an outstanding season with Real Sociedad while Dani Ceballos returns from Arsenal to bolster their midfield options. If he can stay fit and find his A game, Eden Hazard will also feel like a blockbuster new signing after an injury-ravaged first season in Madrid. Therefore the lack of transfer activity should not necessarily be cause for alarm.

Zinedine Zidane has showcased his willingness to switch between 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 and we should see a mixture of both formations again this season. The goalkeeper and back four picks itself after such a solid campaign defensively although Marcelo will be looking to put pressure on Ferland Mendy in the left-back position. Should Madrid ultimately settle on a narrow 4-4-2, the Brazilian could offer some much needed attacking width.

The balance of midfield will be interesting with Zidane blessed with an array of central options. Casemiro is the clear starter in the holding role but there will be a real scrap on for the other central midfield positions and we are likely to see a fair bit of rotation. Toni Kroos is in the box-seat to start most games which means the likes of Ødegaard, Ceballos, Valverde and Luka Modric could be left scrapping for at best two places in the side and potentially only one when it’s a 4-3-3.

Up top, Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard are guaranteed starters in Madrid’s strongest XI and their partnership showcased signs of a real understanding without ever truly exploding last term. The likes of Vinicius, Rodrygo and fit again Marco Asensio will be pushing for starts out wide but could end up being the fall guys of a potential 4-4-2 or 4-3-1-2 system.


Key Man – Sergio Ramos

It’s perhaps a sign of Real Madrid’s lack of attacking potency that their key man is a defender but despite his advancing years, Sergio Ramos continues to deliver big performances and make key contributions at both ends of the pitch for Los Blancos. The Madrid skipper was vital during the run-in to last season, scoring a host of key goals after the restart.

It’s 15 years since Ramos signed for Real Madrid and the only slight blot on his record (as well as all the red cards) is the fact that he’s only won the title in 5 of those seasons. Ever the competitor, Ramos will be determined to have chalked up more before he ultimately does depart Madrid.


One to Watch – Martin Ødegaard

Real Madrid invariably send their bright young talents out on loan to gain experience so it’s unlikely we’ll see any relative unknowns making much impression at the Bernabeu this season. However one beneficiary of that approach will be hungry to make his mark.

Martin Ødegaard was arguably the best attack-minded midfielder in Spain last season, at least prior to lockdown. He was due to spend another season on loan at Real Sociedad but in truth it was a no-brainer for Zidane to recall him given the levels the Norwegian set in San Sebastian.

Breaking into this Real Madrid midfield on a regular basis won’t be easy and at least early on, Ødegaard may spend a lot of time on the substitute’s bench. That will be a test of character for the 21 year old, but he has matured so much since arriving in the Spanish capital as a precocious teenager and when he gets his chance, it’ll be fascinating to see if he continues his upward trajectory in the colours of Real Madrid.


Real Madrid 2020/21 Targets

With everything going on at Barcelona and Atleti not really looking in the sort of shape that will see them make a strong title challenge, Real Madrid will have one goal domestically this season and it will be winning the title again. They’ve not sealed back-to-back league wins since before Pep Guardiola took charge at Camp Nou and another league win this year will be a clear sign that a genuine shift in power has taken place in Spanish football with Real Madrid looking the club more likely to dominate in the first part of this new decade.

There are no guarantees in football and with or without Messi, Barcelona will still have quality players that could push Real Madrid hard for the title. Overall though, you have to fancy Los Blancos to go on and win LaLiga again this term, although they will need to improve if they want to truly compete with the European elite for the Champions League crown.

LLE Prediction: 1st


Madrid City
Madrid from Plaza Callao

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Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1538 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has also lived in Seville and Barcelona and has written extensively about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer.