Early Exit: Real Madrid out of Copa del Rey

A Tired Real Madrid side suffered an early Copa del Rey exit following a 2-2 draw and a 4-3 aggregate loss against Celta Vigo last night. Real Madrid’s hopes of winning the treble have faded away but Los Merengues should seize the opportunity to shift their focus on reclaiming the La Liga title after many years of failure.

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Real Madrid currently sit on top of La Liga table with 43 points despite having played on less game than both Sevilla (42 points) and Barcelona (41 points). Until recently Madrid had a 40 game unbeaten streak, but they have now won just one of their last five games. There are definitely worrying signs for the capital club but perhaps their early exit from the domestic cup would allow them to focus on staying ahead of Sevilla and Barcelona in the title race and return to their winning ways.

Last night Real Madrid failed to score from open play and in recent times they have had to rely on Sergio Ramos’ scoring abilities to be saved in other games. It is obvious that the team is tired and the injuries have not helped Zinedine Zidane give his players a rest. The season started straight after the Euros and Real Madrid had to partake in last season’s Champions League final as well as this season’s European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. Things have definitely been hectic for Madrid but they shouldn’t rest on their laurels just yet.

Zidane will now be focusing on the upcoming games against Real Sociedad in La Liga and Napoli in the Champions League. Real Madrid needs to be strong, convincing and uncompromising in their games. Any hiccup in the upcoming games could put the team under unneeded pressure. The season goes on as Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo, Deportivo Alaves and one of Barcelona and Real Sociedad proceed to the Copa del Rey’s semi-finals. Perhaps, this could be a chance for Luis Enrique’s Barcelona to win some silverware this year.

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Real Madrid and Barcelona Building Momentum

The 86th La Liga season is about to start this weekend. The competition has evolved a lot since 1929. Back then, 10 teams were competing, many teams no longer exist or have been relegated but one thing remains constant: Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance. The two clubs have won 11 of the past 12 league titles, with Atletico Madrid making an exception and winning it in 2013-2014. After a summer of transfers, preparation, Olympic games and Euro 2016 both clubs are back to business and preparing themselves for the new campaign.

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Both teams started their season by winning a trophy after defeating Sevilla. Real Madrid waited till extra-time to win the European Super Cup while Barcelona eased 5-0 past Sevilla over two legs. The success of both clubs is a major boost in confidence for the two teams. Zinedine Zidane seems to have the backing of all his players and the same can be said regarding Luis Enrique who managed to win back-to-back La Liga titles. The two have a lot in common, they both were legends at their clubs and both won the Champions League in their first season as managers at their respective clubs.

Zidane took Real Madrid out of crisis to help them win their 11th Champions League title. Today he had the chance to build his squad prior to the start of the season and surprisingly his only signing was to bring Alvaro Morata back. Zidane has had a full summer to prepare his team. He refused to sign players for the sake of signing players, something his predecessors were very good at. Instead, he’s hoping to get the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, and the return of Alvaro Morata gives Madrid an extra fire-power up front.

On the other hand, Madrid missed out on signing Paul Pogba and it is still hard for them to win the league title, something they haven’t done since 2012. Their rivals Barcelona have strengthened their team with defensive signings like Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne but also midfielders such as Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez. The Catalans had the best attack in any of the top leagues last season and it seems that Arda Turan is finally fitting in with his team-mates, this would help them rely less on MSN as an attacking force.

There is no doubt that Barcelona and Real Madrid are the top two candidates to win the title. However, Atletico Madrid are still in the race, Diego Simeone is still there and they haven’t lost any of their stars. Atletico may not have a strong attacking force like BBC or MSN but their defensive line is surely one of the world’s best and something that can help them get extra points during the season. An exciting new season awaits us. It is hard to imagine who will win it but we can foreshadow that it will be a long race and a tough one especially with all three teams looking in shape ahead of the start.

A Hiccup for Madrid

After Real Madrid defeated Barcelona in El Clasico at the Camp Nou, it was natural to expect them to travel to Germany with a boost in morale and confidence ahead of their showdown against 8th placed Bundesliga team, Wolfsburg. However, a dreadful performance left Los Merengues trailing 2-0 down at the end of the first leg and the hype of an away Clasico win is now history. The win over Barcelona has little significance in La Liga but it was meant to prove that they still have a say in Europe’s elite competition, the Champions League.

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during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg match between VfL Wolfsburg and Real Madrid at Volkswagen Arena on April 6, 2016 in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Brazilian duo, Casemiro and Danilo were catastrophic at the back, one gave away a penalty and the other was passive throughout the whole game. It was obvious that Zinedine Zidane had placed more importance on defeating Barcelona than reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League. He decided to rest James Rodriguez, Isco and Dani Carvajal for the midweek tie and he paid a heavy price. Despite the result, the tie is still open and either side can still qualify to the semi-finals. Now, Zidane is hoping to achieve what Madrid had failed to do since 1987 when they managed to turn a 4-2 deficit and go through. In fact, Wolfsburg is not the toughest team Madrid had faced this season and they have managed to win by two goals or more over 20 times this season. They have all the reasons to believe that they can win the second leg but they need to prove that they are up for the challenge just like they did in the weekend against Barcelona.

Now even if Real Madrid manage to overturn the 2 goal deficit, they are going to face a much tougher opponent in one of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester City, PSG or possibly Atletico Madrid. There is no doubt that on their day, Zidane’s men can beat any of those, they have already beaten Barcelona and PSG this season but do they have what it takes to do it again?  Psychologically, Madrid are unstable but nothing can be taken for granted and the unpredictability of the next round is what makes it more interesting.

Things did not go as planned and Los Blancos failed to make use of their win over Barcelona but they are still the favorites to make it to the semi-final. Real Madrid have nothing to fight for on a domestic level and now the home game against Wolfsburg will be the most important game of their season, they need to react properly and have their full squad available and fully fit for the clash if they are to change things around at the Santiago Bernabeu.

El Clasico: Why it Still Matters

The difference between Barcelona and Real Madrid could be a hundred points, but when El Clasico is being played, all that does not matter. It’s that time of the year again, this time around Los Merengues visit the Camp Nou hoping for revenge after being thrashed 4-0 at home earlier in the season. The difference between the two sides is 10 points with only eight games left to be played, it is very hard to see Barcelona drop so many points especially at this point in time but Real Madrid should be aiming for the win, not only to avenge the 4-0 loss but to build momentum ahead of the final rounds of the Champions League.

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Putting the Supercopa loss against Athletic Bilbao aside, Barcelona have so far been unstoppable this season. They are on course to win La Liga for a second consecutive season and the same can be said about Copa del Rey, they’re in the final against Sevilla and are one of eight teams competing for the Champions League title, the same one they won last season. They can write history by bagging more trophies but Real Madrid can put an end to all of that.

Real Madrid’s loss earlier this season in El Clasico came at a point where the club was in a huge mess. Now, Zinedine Zidane has somehow changed the course of things since Rafa Benitez left, despite not being able to close the gap with Barcelona. Zidane has a team capable of winning the Champions League but all they need is a morale boosting push and what could be better than a win against Barcelona at the Camp Nou? This is why Los Blancos need to put all their efforts on winning this match even if it doesn’t put them back in the Liga’s title race.

On the other hand, Barcelona should not be underestimating their opponents. They need to kill off the match and put Madrid’s hopes of having a good end to the season to bed. Even though, the match could drain Barcelona’s star ahead of an important Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid, they shouldn’t be resting just yet. They need to look ahead and damage Real Madrid while they can because if the two sides meet each other in the Champions League’s semi-finals or final then Los Merengues could be a real threat especially if they prove they can beat the Catalan team next weekend.

It would be wrong to think that the match involving the world’s two biggest clubs is of little importance. Both teams have a lot to fight for and the game will definitely be up to expectations. A win for either of the two sides could be a very important boost ahead of the final rounds of the Champions League. All we can do is speculate and simply watch the match, enjoy it and find out who the winner is.

Zidane: The Time Has Come

It was only a matter of time. Everyone was waiting for the news of Rafa Benitez’s sacking ever since the 4-0 loss against Barcelona. Even scoring 10 goals in one game was not enough to buy the former Liverpool manager time. Long story short, club legend Zinedine Zidane has been promoted from the B team to manage the senior one. Did Real Madrid’s board take the right decision in giving Zidane the chance or was it a rushed decision?

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The French legend is neither expected to start a revolution nor sign big names during this month. For now, he needs to look at his job as a mere caretaker and not plan for the upcoming seasons. Los Blancos need an immediate solution; perhaps a painkiller that allows them to step back on their feet again before it’s too late. The current players have everything it takes to win La Liga, the Champions League or even both as just a year ago, they were on a record-breaking unbeaten run.

First things first, the team is expected to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with little surprises. His fellow countryman Raphael Varane will play alongside the usual Marcelo and Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal is expected to complete the back four at the expense of Danilo. Behind all four of them, Keylor Navas will be confirmed in his spot since the team is not ready to invest in a new signing at the back until the future of their manager is decided.

Spanish midfielder Isco is not expected to break into the starting XI but he’ll probably see more action and have a bigger role than the one he had under Benitez. Even Real Madrid fans gave the player the vote of confidence as they want him to stay at their club amid interest from Juventus and other clubs. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are natural choices in the middle and the trio of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez will play in front of them. There is little doubt that Karim Benzema will be the lone striker. The French forward is having a good season so far and the new manager can only make him better. However, it remains to be seen if Jese will be given playing time or offloaded to another team.

There’s a lot of tasks at the hand of the Frenchman, will he bring Ronaldo back to his best levels or will the Portuguese star move away? Will Gareth Bale be pushed out of the picture or does he still have a role at the club? Zidane needs to build a good relationship will all his players, particularly the superstars and please them all.

Zidane is a football champion, but his there are doubts over his appointment. He’s inexperienced when it comes to training at the top level but he has the support of the fans. Madrid’s first game under the new boss will be against Deportivo La Coruña, they will probably win it but can Zidane deliver beyond that and compete with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for the title?