To be honest I am surprised that Real Madrid are currently only the third favourites to lift the Champions League trophy once again this season, with Barcelona first favourites and Bayern Munich second. So even though our Wales international star Gareth Bale is still not fit enough to feature for Los Blancos, I think that we must be a good bet to be crowned champions of Europe once more.
To be fair to Zinedine Zidane, he does not need his Real Madrid side to win today’s El Clasico clash away to Barcelona, as Los Blancos already have a six point league over our rivals in Spain’s La Liga table. The boss does not want them to close the gap, of course, especially after losing the star forward Gareth Bale to a long term injury.
A draw would be a perfectly good result for Madrid and I think we can see that with the starting line up Zidane has picked for today, with Kovacevic alongside Modric in the centre of midfield to add plenty of strength and make it difficult for Barca to play their usual fluent style of football.
The latest version of the long running battle between Real Madrid and our La Liga rivals from Catalan will be foremost in the minds of Madrid fans after the news reported by Sky Sports about the injury to Gareth Bale. But the El Clasico match against Barcelona in 10 days is not the only big match coming up, making the Welshman’s absence the worst possible timing.
Last season saw Real Madrid need a fantastic late run of results in La Liga just to get close to the eventual title winners Barcelona and put pressure on their fierce rivals, but this time the football boot has been on the other foot so to speak.
This season it has been the turn of Zinedine Zidane and the Real Madrid players to start quickly and race to the top of the Spanish table, while Luis Enrique and Barca endured a terrible start and have struggled to keep in touch. Our other main rivals Atletico Madrid have fared even worse and are currently six points behind us down in fourth place.
The opponents for Real Madrid today are Leganes and the newly promoted club will be massive underdogs to take anything away from the Santiago Bernabeu, especially after losing their last three La Liga matches in a row while Los Blancos stay two points clear of Barcelona at the top.
Not everything has been going fright for Madrid of late, however, with top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo having looked out of sorts and with the side needing a late goal away to the Polish club Legia Warsaw in midweek just to rescue a Champions League point.
Real Madrid hold a two-point lead over Barcelona in the La Liga title race after two months of the campaign in their bid to win the Spanish top-flight crown for the first time in five seasons. Los Blancos have been thwarted by the Catalan club and bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in their bid for the major domestic honour, despite their success in the Champions League.
Well that was a pretty short lived ‘crisis’ for Real Madrid wasn’t it? It just shows you, though, what great pressure there is on the manager and players of this great club, with the football media so willing to talk about a crisis just because Los Blancos drew a few games, even after Zinedine Zidane had steered Madrid to a record run of La Liga wins and another Champions League trophy.
What a difference a week makes eh? Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid were absolutely flying along this time last week, having just put Espanyol to the sword to equal the La Liga record of straight wins set by fierce rivals Barcelona and continue the 100 percent start to the new domestic league campaign.
The fact that Barca had suffered that shock defeat at home to newly promoted Alaves and seen Lionel Messi ruled out with injury, while Atletico Madrid have yet to find their best form, made the future look very bright for Los Blancos. But things do not look so rosy today.
Real Madrid did get this season’s Champions League campaign off to a winning start against the Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon this week, but it was a far from convincing performance that left all the pre-match talk about Los Blancos looking like a good bet to become the first club top retain the European Cup in the4 UCL era look a bit shaky.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the inspiration for the late turnaround and you can never give up hope when CR7 is on the pitch, but he has not been scoring free kicks too often of late and on another day and with another referee he would not even have had the chance after what looked like minimal contact from the Sporting player.
Could this be the year that a club becomes the first ever to win the Champions League in back to back seasons? If it is then it will be Real Madrid making it and recording an amazing 12th European cup triumph, way more than any other club.
And with the huge experience in the playing squad as well as the manager Zinedine Zidane Madrid have the tools for the job. The Frenchman clearly wants to make no mistakes and get off to the best possible start tonight, which is obvious from the strong line up Zidane has picked to face Sporting Lisbon of Portugal at home tonight.