Real Madrid's dominant era pronounced over after Ajax loss

As Spanish media looked back on Ajax's 4-1 victory in the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, there was agreement the Dutch side had not just knocked them out of Europe but ended their season.

Madrid (dpa) – As media in Spain reflected on Real Madrid’s elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Ajax, Diario Sport’s headline: “Madrid closed for demolition” seemed to sum up the mood.

The club that has lifted four of the last five Champions League trophies was not just out of Europe – the season was over for them in March.

Marca headlined “Seven worst days in the history of the Bernabeu” reflecting on how in three matches Real Madrid had been, in effect, eliminated from the Spanish Cup, the league title race, and now the Champions League.
Before this season they had never lost at home in Europe by a three goal margin. It has now happened to them twice with a 3-0 reverse against CSKA Moscow followed up by Tuesday's 4-1 debacle, which led to 5-3 aggregate elimination.
Defender Nacho Fernandez admitted: “It’s going to be hard to finish the season,” as he looked ahead to three months playing for nothing while Barcelona chase a treble and Atletico Madrid a possible double.
Diario AS columnist Tomas Roncero lamented a more general decay at the club. He wrote: “The Bernabeu doesn’t roar any more. It doesn’t intimidate.
"It just accompanies the play. It’s full of tourists who go to the stadium as if they were going to an afternoon at a theme park.”
The paper's editorial added: “All that’s missing from this farce is [Jose] Mourinho.”
He has now become one of the front-runners to replace interim coach Santiago Solari at the end of the season.
He has not been shy in promoting himself, telling Spanish television this week: “I have great memories. Working at Madrid is a unique experience. It’s not like any other team.
“We did fantastic things. We won a league in a unique way. We had bad moments too and I made some mistakes but the experience made me a better coach and a better person.”
It remains to be seen whether the Real Madrid board turn to their former coach. The last time they went out of the Champions League at the last 16 stage was 2010, the year they hired Mourinho.
Attention has focused on another Portuguese former Madrid man. “Cristianocide” read another headline making the point that selling star forward Ronaldo last summer was “like shooting oneself in the foot”.
Madrid have signed four players since then and three of them – Brahim Diaz, Mariano Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola were watching from the stands as Ajax ran riot, not even in the squad.
Also watching the events unfold from high up in the Bernabeu was Sergio Ramos.
The Real Madrid captain was suspended for the game having deliberately picked up a booking in the first leg believing Madrid were all but through.
He was also being filmed as part of an Amazon documentary about the club captaincz. That apparent nod to distraction was not well received by many Madrid commentators.
“We have to go on,” said Solari after the game.
He will be without three injured wingers for the weekend game against Valladolid.
Lucas Vazquez, Gareth Bale and Vinicius were all casualties on the night when the team that had won its last nine Champions League knockout games crashed out of the competition.

Wednesday, March 6th 2019
By Peter Jenson,

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