Listening to Zinedine Zidane, the Real Madrid manager, it seems they are really determined to defend their title this year. Looking at the past statistics, elite European teams can bag consecutive national titles, win premium knockout trophies or win the Europa League consistently, but it’s not characteristic. Surprisingly, retaining the Champions League title has been elusive for even the best of the best.
An Exceptional Squad
Looking at the current calibre of players in the league, if there is a team with the potential to achieve just that, it would be Real Madrid. Let’s not focus on their impressive 11 wins streak they had earlier this season, what happened in the past isn’t always indicative of what will happen when the chips are down. The same applies to their previous 6 European Cup wins which cannot be compared to the modern day competition.
Real Madrid have proven time and time again that they are fully capable of clinching the title even if they had less than stellar starts in many of their previous tournaments. But what do Real need to do this year to replicate their success?
Remain Composed When You Host First
Hard work is always the secret of success, there is no other substitute. Without looking at Napoli’s incredible run so far in the Italian League, any duel between the two is bound to be in Madrid’s favour. However, the risk of playing at home first is always immense.
In modern day football, it seems players are already accustomed to aggressive crowds and highly experienced players can assimilate into such a climate without a problem. Some even revel in it. However, some top players confess that Napoli’s San Paolo stadium can turn into hell on big nights. This can have a very motivating impact on the home team.
All Madrid had to maintain was a clean sheet on the first leg. Unfortunately they conceded a single goal but made up for it by scoring three more than their rivals. If we look at statistics, the last time Madrid overcame Napoli, they also took out Bayern and Dortmund to clinch the title back in 2014. Since Zidane took the role of coach, the team has been phenomenal and rejuvenated.
Will the Past be a Sign of the Present?
In their away game against Roma, Madrid were terrific. They came back from 2-0 down to Wolfsburg to eventually win 3-2 thanks to an impressive performance from Cristiano Ronaldo. The win against Man City was decisive in the semi-finals, but it took penalties for them to beat Atletico to clinch the title.
During the European Super Cup, they pulled out a second equalizer in the dying moments of the game. This was before eventually scoring the winner during the extra time while being a man down. In Japan for the World Club Championship, Madrid managed to come back from trailing 2-1 to win the final 4-2; a game that stretched until extra time. If this is of any indication, it is that Real is a team with an incredible will to win, which seems to be part of the very fabric of the team and its direction.
Get the Winner’s Attitude
Real Madrid are an impressive team to watch and their resilience is remarkable. If we were to bet now on todays football matches, Madrid would still be in our top picks. But it’s time for Madrid to make their presence felt and kick into high gear if they want to get their hands on the Champions League trophy again this year.