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Do Real Madrid Deserve to be Champions League Favourites?

Posted on February 17, 2015 by Admin2

Many fans, journalists and bookmakers alike have Real Madrid as the favourites to become the first team in the UEFA Champions League era to lift the trophy back-to-back.

Real Madrid are riding a nine-game winning streak in Europe’s elite club competition which dates back to their two semi-final leg victories over Bayern Munich and the extra-time victory over Atlético Madrid in last year’s final.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side breezed through their group which consisted of FC Basel, Liverpool and Ludogorets, scoring 16 goals in their six matches, conceding only two. They are the hottest team in the Champions League as evidenced by the high demand for Real Madrid Champions League tickets online.

Real Madrid were the only team to pick up maximum points in this season’s group stage, setting them up with German Bundesliga side Schalke 04 in the second round, with the first leg on Wednesday night.

The Spanish side eliminated a trio of German sides in the knockout rounds of last season’s competition, including the Royal Blues, 9-2 on aggregate, also in the same stage they meet again this time.

Borussia Dortmund fell 3-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals to the record European Cup champions and then defending champions Bayern Munich were unceremoniously dumped out 5-0 in the semi-finals.

Is this Real Madrid side good enough to defend the trophy?

They currently lead La Liga, and only Atlético Madrid have slowed them down domestically this season. It was less than two weeks ago that their city rivals hammered them 4-0 in the league, allowing Barcelona to close the gap at the top to a single point.

Real had been scoring for fun during the first half of the season. During their 22-game winning streak at the back end of 2014, they were averaging a staggering 3.25 goals per game. In the New Year, that average has fallen to a mere 1.9 goals per game in comparison.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are scoring for fun in Spain and are favourites to win their second round tie versus the inconsistent Manchester City. Bayern Munich were 8-0 winners over Hamburg at the weekend – they’re expected to breeze past Shakhtar Donetsk to reach the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League.

And one cannot rule out José Mourinho’s Chelsea. The former Madrid manager arguably has the best Chelsea squad he’s ever assembled, have a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League, and faces a Paris Saint-Germain side who have not been hitting all cylinders this season.

Mourinho’s won it with FC Porto and Internazionale in the past, meaning you cannot right off the Blues whilst he’s in charge.

This makes Real Madrid are one of four hotly-fancied teams for this season’s Champions League, and all are expected to reach the final eight of this season’s tournament over the next couple of weeks when their second round ties take place.

One thing Real Madrid do lack in comparison to both Chelsea and Bayern Munich though, is a solid defence.  The protection in front of them isn’t elite when out of possession either.  They rely on their talented midfield and attack to retain the ball.  If they don’t go on to defend their trophy you’d have to believe it will come down to their defence being exploited.

Real Madrid have the easiest draw of the lot on paper – many will be expecting them to dump out Schalke by a cricket score on aggregate, much like they did 12 months ago…

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