What’s next for Real Madrid?
The date is April 23rd, 2017 and I find myself staring at the TV screen dumbfounded at the events that had just transpired before my very eyes. As I stood in silence I remembered all the pain from years past, and I came to the realization this may be another season full of empty promises. The harsh reality that my coach, the idol of my club, could be sacked just a year after he brought us back from the pits of hell. As fans there is nothing worse than realizing the players we praise day in and day out are simply human and are prone to errors just as we are. When your team loses, there is this feeling of doubt not only in your club but in yourself that this may just be another year
April 23rd, 2017 was the day FC Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 in the Santiago Bernabéu in front of a sold out stadium. Now, those who are familiar with Spanish football know that at least twice a year there is a time where the world ceases to exist for 90 minutes, all that matters is the white on one side of the field and the red and blue on the opposing side. El Clasico, the biggest match of the world of football played by the two biggest clubs in the world FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF. Every time these two behemoths step on the field to do battle they have everything to play for and everything to lose, this year was no different. With Barcelona trailing only by a messily 3 points, they knew that beating Madrid in their own stadium would blow the title race wide open and that’s exactly what they did. With James Rodriguez tying the game up in the 87th minute and Madrid with a man down the score read 2-2 and every Madridista breathed a sigh of relief. There was about six minutes left in the game and everyone in the stadium knew that at this point only a miracle would give one of these teams the 3 points. As the game reached its final minute Jordi Alba put in a pin point cross for Messi in the box and as he always does he buried it into the back of the net the score line now read 3-2. Barcelona took home the 3 points that day and closed the gap that Madrid had held for so long that season, but in a sense it almost seemed normal. Madrid are known to do the same thing season after season buy expensive players to excite the fans put up a decent title fight up until about the midway point and then just simply run out of gas toward the end of the season. As a fan this marked the point in the season where everything to follow would end in utter shambles and disappointment, but something different happened this year. This loss to Barcelona didn’t weaken Madrid on the contrary it made them stronger. The game against Barcelona served as a reality check for Madrid that if there was any feeling of complacency among the squad it had to be completely gone. Following the Barcelona game Madrid proceeded to winning their last 6 competitive fixtures in la liga prompting them to win their 33rd La Liga title.
Now with La Liga in hand all seemed good in paradise but the celebrations only lasted a short while because every Madridista already had the elusive 12th Champion League title in mind. For most clubs winning the league title can be deemed a very successful season but for Madrid fans it’s simply not enough. Having won the trophy the year before every fan knew that winning it this year would mean Madrid would be the first team in the modern era to retain the Champions League title. The odds were against them going into the final knowing they would be playing against an inspired Juventus team that without a doubt had the best defense in all of Europe shutting out both Barcelona and Monaco in the rounds leading up to the final. The main concern wasn’t if Madrid could score against Juve it was more about how they would do it. Madrid began the game with a very high tempo pinning Juventus in their own half and playing Marcelo and Carvajal in more advanced roles so they would have more freedom to attack. In the 20th minute Carvajal laid in a pin point cross for Ronaldo which opened the scoring and basically set the premise for the whole game. A beautiful Mario Mandzukic overhead goal aside Madrid ran riot against Juventus all night and by the end of the game the score line read 4-1 in favor of Madrid, history was made.
Now the question can be truly asked what’s next for this Madrid squad? Off the back of winning a 33rd La liga title and a 3rd Champions League title in the last four years it seems like the era of Madrid dominance has only begun. With players like Marco Asensio, Isco, Jesus Vallejo, Theo Hernandez and rumored new boy Dani Ceballos still fairly young it’s safe to say Madrid may still dominate domestically and abroad for many years to come. The days of “this may just be another year” are no more this Madrid team is here to stay.