Ronaldo’s exit, a third Champions League win, Lopetegui sacked – a timeline of Real Madrid’s chaotic 2018

Ben Hayward
Evening Standard

2018 has been another eventful year for Real Madrid. Los Blancos end December as they started January – as European and world champions. However, so much has happened in between.

Madrid finished way off the pace in La Liga last season, but claimed a third successive Champions League crown by beating Liverpool in Kiev in May.

After that, they were rocked by the departures of both Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo, before a troublesome start to the new campaign under Julen Lopetegui, who lasted only 14 games as coach.

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Here, Standard Sport takes a look back at the timeline of a turbulent 12 months for Real, with plenty of highs and lows in that time for the 13-time European champions…


January 7th: Gareth Bale scores twice, but Real are held to a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo in their first league game of 2018.

January 13th: Madrid are beaten 1-0 at home to Villarreal and end the weekend a massive 19 points behind Barcelona in La Liga.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

January 21st: Ronaldo, Bale and Nacho all score braces as Los Blancos thrash Deportivo La Coruna 7-1 at home.

January 24th: Real lose 2-1 at home to Leganes and crash out of the Copa del Rey on away goals in the quarter-finals.

February 3rd: Another setback as Madrid are held to a 2-2 draw away to Levante.

February 14th: Zidane’s side come from a goal down to beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 at home in the teams’ Champions League last-16 first leg match.

February 27th: Ronaldo is rested and Real lose 1-0 at Espanyol in La Liga.

March 6th: With Neymar out injured, Madrid beat PSG 2-1 in Paris and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.

March 31st: Bale scores twice as Real win 3-0 at Las Palmas to rack up their fourth straight win in La Liga.

April 3rd: Ronaldo hits a spectacular overhead kick as Madrid win 3-0 away to Juventus.

(AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

April 8th: The Portuguese nets in the derby but Madrid are held to a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico in the league.

April 11th: Real are on the verge of a European exit after conceding three times at home, but Ronaldo converts a contentious penalty in added time to send the champions through to the semi-finals with a 4-3 aggregate win against Juventus.

April 25th: Marcelo and Marco Asensio are on target as Madrid win 2-1 away to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last four.

May 1st: Karim Benzema scores twice as Real and Bayern draw 2-2 in the return and the Spanish side seal a place in the final.

May 6th: Bale hits a late leveller as Zidane’s side earn a 2-2 draw in the Clasico against Barcelona at Camp Nou.

May 9th: Sergio Ramos scores at both ends as Madrid are beaten 3-2 away to Sevilla in La Liga.

May 19th: Zidane’s side throw away a two-goal lead at Villarreal and have to settle for a 2-2 draw. They finish La Liga in third place, 17 points behind Barca.

May 26th: Bale comes off the bench to net twice (including a wonderful overhead kick) as Real win the Champions League for the third year in a row. After the match, both he and Ronaldo hit that they could leave.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

May 31st: Zidane drops a bombshell as he announces he is stepping down as coach. The search begins for his successor

June 12th: Madrid say Spain boss Julen Lopetegui will take over after the World Cup in Russia. He is then sacked the following day by the national team.

June 14th: On the eve of Spain’s World Cup debut against Portugal, Madrid unveil Lopetegui at the Santiago Bernabeu.

(AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

July 10th: Ronaldo moves to Juventus for a fee of €105 million.

July 13th: Madrid release an official statement saying they will not be signing Neymar, having also denied they would be bringing in Kylian Mbappe.

August 8th: Real sign goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea for around €35m.

August 15th: Real lose 4-2 to Atletico after extra time in the UEFA Super Cup as Lopetegui’s first game ends in disappointment. It is their first loss in an international final for 18 years.

August 31st: The transfer window shuts and Madrid have not brought in a replacement for Ronaldo.

September 19th: Lopegetui’s side thrash Roma 3-0 in their best performance yet under the Basque boss.

September 26th: A 3-0 loss at Sevilla sets the alarm bells ringing.

(AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

October 6th: Real lose 1-0 at Alaves amid a period eight hours without a goal.

October 28th: Lopetegui’s side are trounced 5-1 by Barca at Camp Nou. It is their fifth defeat in seven games.

October 29th: Madrid dismiss Lopetegui and appoint Santiago Solari as interim coach.

(NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(NurPhoto via Getty Images)

November 13th: After starting with four wins in a row and a fruitless search for a bigger name, Solari is given the job on a permanent basis and handed a contract until 2021.

November 24th: More problems as Real are humiliated in a 3-0 loss at Eibar.

November 27th: Madrid win 2-0 away to Roma to secure top spot in their Champions League group.

December 12th: Solari’s side are beaten 3-0 at home to CSKA Moscow in their final Champions League group game.

December 17th: Madrid are paired with Ajax in the Champions League last-16 draw.

December 22nd: Los Blancos beat UAE champions Al Ain 4-1 to win the World Club Cup in Abu Dhabi for a third time in a row. Meanwhile, they finish the year in fourth place in La Liga, eight points behind Barca (albeit with a game in hand).

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