It’s certainly been an odd season and no one can deny that after the terrible Coronavirus broke up every domestic league in the world. It was the teams who were able to respond quickly after the restart that benefited the most and one of those was Real Madrid.
That the season was Zinedine Zidane’s comeback one after leaving Madrid in 2018 was spectacular that it ended with a La Liga title. Taking away Barcelona’s chance to win a unique hat trick of titles in the process.
No other team in Spain came close to Madrid since the restart with Zidane’s team remaining undefeated and collecting an impressive 28 points from their final 10 games. It was that type of consistency that Barcelona simply could not live with. What is interesting is that despite their flawless consistency Madrid didn’t score many goals in those last 10 games, just 18, where normally you would expect between 25-30 for such a team. At the same time no team in Spain was on fire with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid scoring the most in this period with just 19.
Overall Madrid scored 70 goals, 16 less than Barcelona and less than 2 goals per game, however with 25 goals conceded they had the best defence in the league. Results were not overwhelming but Madrid ground down hard and dug for the wins and it is an important league title given that it is only Zidane’s 2nd title with the team. Incredibly Zidane has won more Champions League’s with Madrid than titles as manager.
And speaking of the Champions League we turn our attentions to the round of 16, where Madrid still have to face off against Manchester City. The 1st leg was a major blow for Zidane’s team who saw City come back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Bernabeu in what was hailed as a famous victory for Pep Guardiola’s team.
The 2nd leg has been in limbo for 4 months but the two teams will finally meet in Manchester on August 7th and Guardiola’s team will be the favourites to get to the quarter finals.
In short Madrid need to come to the Etihad and score 2 goals, that will be the minimum requirement, they can even concede one and then hope for extra time. Either that or Madrid will have to produce their best game of the season and win big. That seems unrealistic away to this City side and the fact that Madrid have, for them, scored very few goals this season.
It would be a major plus if Madrid were to knock City out and at the same time if they were to be beaten here the icing on the cake as their season draws to an end would be expired and stale.
There is also the shift in power to talk about. A few seasons ago it would have been unthinkable to see Madrid being knocked out in Europe against City, but times can change quick in football. The teams have met before in Europe, clashing in fact in a semi-final where Madrid were simply too strong in the end, but City hold all the ace cards going into this 2nd leg.
Zidane’s job will be safe with the title in the bag even if Madrid are knocked out. And so much time has passed between the 1st and 2nd legs that a lot of perspective can be seen, no rush knee jerk decisions for example. For now Zidane has steered a sinking ship to the title and the thought process must be a clear out in the summer and seeing new fresh faces at the Bernabeu.
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