You could have heard a pin drop in many bars in Palma yesterday. Real Madrid's defeat in the Champions League 4-1 by Ajax had left fans in a state of shock. Coach Santiago Solari may have a contract until 2021 but no one expects him to remain beyond the close season after overseeing Tuesday’s catastrophic last-16 second leg defeat which ended the club’s 1,012 day reign as kings of Europe. It also effectively ended Madrid’s season after successive defeats to Barcelona which sent them out of the Copa del Rey and put them 12 points adrift of Barcelona in the title race, five more than when Solari succeeded Julen Lopetegui in October.
The Champions League has become Madrid's league over the last three seasons; whatever happened domestically they would usually go on and take the European crown, which was enough for fans. But Real Madrid are not in good shape. Losing Ronaldo was a major blow and the fact that he was never really replaced has just underlined the problem. No one doubts that Madrid will bounce back and I suspect it will be sooner or later, but the cost will be high. The team has to be rebuilt, which will cost them heavily. Overhauling a squad with many underperforming players already over the age of 30 or approaching it and on inflated wages will be a more complicated process for Madrid. Meanwhile, Barcelona are continuing to reign supreme with an ageing squad as well. Difficult times.