Having dominated domestically and in Europe Cristiano Ronaldo and co jet off to North Africa in the hope of taking the world by storm in the Club World Cup. While the importance of the tournament has been called into question on numerous occasions Real, it is still a trophy Los Blancos have a great chance of winning. But it is their quest for every trophy which could see them suffer come May.
Luckily for Madrid, they enter the tournament at the semi-final stage, meaning they only need to play two matches in the space of four days. It is still two extra matches squeezed into already bulging season. Moreover, it is a La Liga match which will need to be rescheduled at key points in the season.
That along with Copa del Rey and Champions League commitments could see them playing two matches a week for the majority of the campaign. That is if they are to defend their crowns, after all. Madrid have already played more football than most in 2014, reaching the final of both Cup competitions, as well as competing in both Supercup competitions.
Yes, Real Madrid are used to dealing with multiple competitions, but after a World Cup in the heat of Brazil, burnout is a real possibility, and should be Carlo Ancelotti’s greatest fear. Toni Kroos has already showed signs of fatigue having enjoyed a fruitful yet tiring year.
The midfielder was a key cog in Bayern Munich’s title charge, and featured in every match of Germany’s successful World Cup campaign. There was no let-up after his triumph in Brazil. The German himself admitted he was feeling the strain on constant football.
“This year I've played the entire second half of the season with Bayern, the World Cup and the Super Cups with Real Madrid onwards,” Kroos noted. “I haven't played more in my life, and I'm getting tired. To make matters worse, in Spain there is no break in January, like there is in Germany, so I have to get by.”
Despite voicing his fatigue, Kroos has continued playing in every La Liga and Champions League match so far this season, with only the early stages of the Copa del Rey offering him the rest he so desperately needs.
His midfield partner Luka Modric’s injury may have also been the result of fatigue. Croatia manager Nika Kovac has hit out the club for overplaying the midfielder, which he believes is the cause of a thigh injury which will keep Modric out until next year. Sami Khedira and James Rodriguez and also on the sidelines nursing injuries.
Even without the services of star midfielders, Madrid still look a threat. The starting XI is more or less as strong as ever, as demonstrated by their run of 20 straight wins in all competitions. There were signs of a wobble against Almeria, where Verza’s missed penalty proved key to Real maintaining their record.
But while they still have Ronaldo, they still have a chance of winning any match. Despite his sporadic influence against Almeria, the Portuguese still found the back if the net twice. But keeping him and his teammates fit and firing will be tough, and will only get more difficult as the season progresses and the competitions stack up. Just one injury could hamper their plans for a perfect season.