This group with Shakhtar, Inter, Real Madrid, and Mönchengladbach has been crazy! Since the beginning of the tournament, it was clear this was the most competitive group because there are no weak teams and everyone can beat each other. Usually, in the group stage, there are 1 or 2 weak teams per group, but sometimes that doesn't happen.
Real Madrid started the tournament in a very horrible way with a defeat against Shakhtar, in the second match they had a tie against Mönchengladbach, and then 2 victories against Inter, which is supposed to be the second-best team in the group, the first one being obviously Real Madrid.
However, right now after having played 5 of the 6 matches of the group stage, both Real Madrid and Inter are out of the Champions League. They are in the third and fourth position and only the first 2 are the ones who go to the next stage. The third position goes to a lesser competition called the Europa League. This is how the group is looking right now:
Everything can still change because the top 3 positions are still up for grabs! Usually in the last match, the first and sometimes even the second position are already decided, but this isn't the case now. Inter can still finish in positions 4, 3, or 2, Mönchengladbach, on the other hand, can still finish in positions 1, 2, or 3. The other 2 teams, Real Madrid and Shakhtar can finish in any position, 1, 2, 3, and 4! I don't remember a Champion League group that was as even as this one.
The only match I could see today was Real Madrid vs Shakhtar, after Madrid's defeat in the first match I was expecting to see them with a very competitive and focused attitude, ready to destroy their rivals. But I am suspecting this team isn't mentally strong. They didn't create many chances to score goals, and as the minutes went on they started to become messy and distracted when defending.
Benzema returned to the lineup after his short injury but this didn't change things compared to the previous match because his performance was extremely low. Several important players that didn't participate due to injury were Sergio Ramos, Valverde, and Hazard which are constantly getting injured and this is starting to get very worrisome. Casemiro, the only defensive midfielder of Real Madrid didn't play this match because he already had a yellow card and Zidane didn't want to risk him getting another one and missing the next match.
The best opportunities to score a goal for Real Madrid came with Asensio, he had 2 good shots inside the area and neither of them ended up being a goal due to simply bad luck. So far, Asensio's season has been horrible, he has more than 600 minutes and has produced 0 goals and 0 assists. He keeps accumulating minutes on the pitch but nothing positive has come out of it so far.
The first Shakhtar's goal happened thanks to a distracted defense. The ball bounced off a Real Madrid player and the rival striker quickly went to it as the defensive players just looked. A goal that wouldn't happen to a team that is constantly focused and playing intensively. This type of goal happens to demoralized teams with depleted mental stamina. The second goal was just a good counterattack after Madrid's players were mostly thinking of attacking not about defending.
Most of Madrid's attacks were Vazquez and Medy trying to get into the penalty box from the sides, or simply crossing the ball and hope for a good header. Benzema has never been a good header so I don't quite get why they try to do this so much. Maybe it is because they don't have any other strategy to look for goals.
Zidane did some changes in the second half, Vinicius, Mariano, and Isco went to the pitch in exchange for Benzema, Rodrygo, and Odegaard, but nothing changed. This is a very difficult and worrisome situation for this team because they are having poor performances time and time again with no way out of this hole.
In my opinion, the solution would be to simply do a generational change and get rid of some older players. Give more responsibility and minutes to younger players and start looking for a new attacking superstar, Mbappe or Haaland should be Real Madrid's top priority right now.
There is still one more to match to go until the Champions League group stages finishes next week but things are looking very dark for Real Madrid. The next match I plan to watch is tomorrow, Manchester United vs PSG, it looks promising because PSG is also having issues in their Champions League's performance and they urgently need a victory.