Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Madrid March On To Semis

After a campaign of thrills, spills and above all excitement, Tottenham Hotspur have been dumped out at the Quarter Final Stage by Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid side.

Eviscerated at the Bernabeau, Spurs acquitted themselves much better at the Lane, displaying the kind of fighting spirit which has made them so popular in this year's competition. However, even the Lononers' gargantuan effort wasn't enough to overcome a Real Madrid side capable of going all the way in this year's competition.

It was harsh on Tottenham to lose the second leg, especially as the result of such a terrible goalkeeping error, but in the end Ronaldo's second half goal was merely academic. The tie had been settle a week earlier, when a Peter Crouch sending off and an Adebayor double helped the Merengues to a resounding 4-0 win.

Next up for Madrid is their biggest test of the season, a two legged Champions League semi final tie against arch rivals Barcelona. That tie marks part of a three way culmination to this year's season, a conclusion which may well dictate Jose Mourinho's future at the club, despite the Portuguese's insistence that he plans to fulfill his Real Madrid contract.

It has been a mixed first season for Jose Mourinho, one made acceptable to the Madrid hierarchy by fine results in the Champions League and Copa Del Rey, that have set the team up for a silver lined conclusion to the season.

However, if Mourinho is to win a trophy this term, he will have to succeed where he failed earlier in the season and defeat Barcelona. That 5-0 loss at the Camp Nou was a major turning point in La Liga, a loss which scarred Real Madrid in the worst possible way.

Mourinho proved during his tenure with Inter Milan that he is fully capable of leading a team to victory over the likes of Barcelona, but that was with a line up much more suited to the type of disciplined approach needed to succeed against Pep Guardiola's men. It is difficult to see players like Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo maintaining the type of defensive concentration that served Samuel Eto'o so well upon his return to the Nou Camp last season. Nor is at all plausible that a center back pairing involving the volatile Pepe, will work quite as effectively as Inter's Samuel-Lucio axis did last year.

Nevertheless, it can be assured that Mourinho will fancy his side to overcome Barcelona in at least one competition, and in doing so halt Barca's charge toward a second treble in three years. In fact, confidence at the Bernabeau has been so high as to prompt comments from Kaka at the weekend, insisting that Madrid remain favorites to pip the Catalans in all three tournaments, and win a treble themselves.

While Kaka's bold predictions are obviously asinine, they do reflect an arrogance that exists around the Real Madrid team, one that could either help or hinder them in the weeks to come. Needless to say, coming into a game against Barcelona while low on confidence is a recipe for disaster, but being over arrogant against such a dangerous opponent can have its own draw backs.

Starting next weekend, Mourinho will face some task in instilling the perfect mixture of arrogance and humility into his Real Madrid side, so as to save Mr. Kaka from an embarrassing case of hubris. 

1 comment:

  1. Feel free to post your predictions about the conclusion of Madrid's season.