Real Madrid’s resurgence has come at JUST the right time: Zinedine Zidane’s old band of reliables have risen from the ashes of their mediocre season thanks to the timeless quality of Luka Modric and Co as they hunt down Atletico in the LaLiga title race
- Real Madrid have turned their fortunes around and silverware is a real possibility
- At the start of the season Los Blancos were in disarray after a poor run of form
- Zinedine Zidane’s side are in the last eight in Europe and well placed in LaLiga
- Their recent form has been inspired by the timeless quality from reliable stars
- But Madrid are not dangerous side of old and will be underdogs for a trophy
It’s shaping up to be the week that goes a long way to deciding Real Madrid’s season: Tuesday April 6 through to Wednesday April 14.
That’s when Zinedine Zidane’s team are due to play their Champions League quarter-finals against Liverpool, with a Clasico at home to Barcelona slap bang in the middle of the two legs.
Win the tie and the league game and talk of doing the double will be cranked up to levels unimagined when they were down in the dumps earlier in the season.
Real Madrid’s old guard have helped the team transform their fortunes on the pitch this term
They were down in the dumps early on in the campaign but now have a real chance of a trophy
Zinedine Zidane faces a crucial period of the season coming up as they bid to win the double
The timeless quality of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Karim Benzema, and the form of Thibuat Courtois have been behind good recent results. And the return from injury of Sergio Ramos, Rodrygo and Fede Valverde are at the root of the newfound confidence in the season ending far better than was expected mid-term.
Real Madrid became Spain’s sole survivor in the Champions League this week and with 11 games to go in the domestic competition they are still not completely out of the hunt for the title.
They will need two teams above them to fail, that’s true. But Atletico Madrid look low on confidence after their schooling by Chelsea. They have dropped 11 points in the last eight games and seen their lead whittled away by both Madrid and Barcelona.
He has told his players to recapture the spirit of last season as they scooped the LaLiga title
The timeless quality of stars such as Luka Modric (L) have been crucial to their recent form
The latter are the other obstacle to Zidane’s team. Atletico Madrid might drop the six points it would take Real Madrid to overhaul them but Barca will have to slip up too.
But Zidane has told his players to look back to last season if they need a reason to believe. When LaLiga came back after lockdown there were 11 games left and Madrid were two points off the lead.
They overtook Barcelona at the top by winning 10 of those remaining matches and drawing the last. If they repeat that run-in this time and that includes beating Barcelona on April 11 then that will certainly keep the pressure up on Atletico and if they fail to pick themselves from their Champions League exit then they could drop the points that allow Madrid to overtake them.
However, the injury woes of troubled winger Eden Hazard is posing a headache for Los Blancos
Not everything in Zidane’s garden is rosy. Eden Hazard’s problems continue and there is now pressure from Belgium for the player to take more drastic measures to overcome persistent injury problems. The club have ruled out surgery and still believe that Hazard can return before the end of the season and make an impact.
But coach Zidane almost seems to have grown accustomed to not having him available and Vinicius continues to grow in confidence. Despite missing a sitter against Atalanta he’s been giving some credit for having made the chance himself with a clever dribble. And another run into the area then brought about the penalty that put the tie beyond doubt.
Madrid are not favourites to win the Champions League and Liverpool will provide a stern test in a competition they thrive in, despite an abject domestic campaign. In the Spanish title race they are very much third favourites.
The title race is out of their hands and they will be hoping that rivals Atletico Madrid slip up
Zidane’s side are certainly not a spent force and they have the quality to go the distance
And it is clear that if they are to get back the aura of old they will have to mould a team from the current diaspora of young players they have out on loan at Arsenal (Martin Odegaard), Milan (Brahim Diaz) and Getafe (Take Kubo) among others, or find a way to spend big this summer and land Erling Haaland, or the player Florentino Perez has really set his heart on Kylian Mbappe.
But from the ashes of a somewhat mediocre season by their standards a genuine chance to win something has emerged.
Modric is 35, Ramos is nearly 35, Benzema is 33 and Kroos is 31. But their fitness levels – Ramos’ recent knee problems aside – are off the scale. They were the strongest players in the competition in the last 10 games of last season and they are looking good to go the distance once more.
With his old band of reliables, Zidane knows Madrid are not a spent force in terms of this season’s spoils just yet.
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