As Real Madrid gear up to face Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals with the first leg tonight at the Etihad Stadium, there is a lingering thought in my mind over the priorities that the club may have to make.
The season is split into three games apiece – three games in the league and three games in the Champions League. Now Real Madrid could do the double if things go as planned in the league and in Europe. But with the difficulty of the fixture list and the injuries that come with it at this juncture of the season, as visible with the knock to Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane might have to make the tough decision in picking a trophy to target.
FIXTURES FROM NOW:
Vs Manchester City (A) – Tonight
Vs Real Sociedad (A) – Saturday
Vs Manchester City (H) – 4 May
Vs Valencia (H) – 8 May
Vs Deportivo (A) – 14/15 May
MAYBE: Vs Bayern Munich/Atletico Madrid – 28 May
WHAT THE HEART WANTS
A few weeks back, the title looked to be done and dusted. Barcelona were on course and by a good margin. Fast-forward to third week of April and it is down to one point. As it stands:
Barcelona – Played 35, 82 points
Atletico Madrid – Played 35, 82 points
Real Madrid – Played 35, 81 points
In the last ten years, Barcelona have won the league six times, Real Madrid three times and Atletico Madrid once. But last Real won the league was the 2011/12 season under Jose Mourinho. Since then zilch. A league win demonstrates winning a title on longevity with its share of ups, downs, its lulls and highs.
If Real Madrid don’t win the league, then in all likelihood, Barcelona would. Even if the Catalans and Atleti finish on same points, Barca have the better head-to-head to still win the title (against Real too, for the record). And yes I understand it stands against Real Madrid’s aspirations and history with the European Cup as Gareth Bale acknowledged too.
WHAT THE MIND CALCULATES
The mind knows that the league depends on the fate of not just Barcelona but Atletico Madrid too. Not only do we have to most probably win ALL our games, we have to rely on others to do us a favour and extract points from Barcelona and Atletico. And with Barcelona concentrating solely on the league before the Copa del Rey final on 23 May, that looks unlikely.
Keeping that in mind, Champions League looks to be the safer bet for silverware this season and ensure two seasons are not spent without a trophy.
Will it be easy? Ofcourse not, it never is.