It’s been a pretty good week for Real Madrid. After getting one over on their bitter rivals Barcelona in La Liga, they completed the job against Liverpool to seal their passage to the semi-finals of the Champions League. In a season where Zinedine Zidane’s side have not always performed to the peak of their supreme powers, in recent weeks Real Madrid have given us a thorough reminder why they are frequently backed in the bet exchange.
Against Barcelona, the result seemed pretty certain after Real Madrid took a 2-0 lead after just 28 minutes through goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos. Although Barcelona mustered a fightback through Óscar Mingueza’s second-half strike, the home team looked in control and saw out a win which took them ahead of Barcelona in the table and just a solitary point behind league leaders Atlético Madrid.
Then came the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool. With a 3-1 lead from the first leg, Real Madrid were in a strong position, but they would have been wary of Liverpool’s ability to produce moments of magic at Anfield. Fortunately for Real Madrid, Liverpool couldn’t quite find their magic touch, and despite a slightly nervy start, Los Blancos put in a resolute defensive performance and limited Liverpool to little in the way of chances. A 0-0 scoreline on the night secured their progression to the semi-finals with ease.
It’s the perfect time of the season for Real Madrid to hit a purple patch of form. With the league title and Champions League still to play for, there’s every chance that this campaign could have the kind of perfect ending that seemed unlikely in the early part of the season. Real Madrid is a club used to success, and players, coaches and supporters alike will feel that the latter stages of the Champions League is where they belong, as well as pushing hard for the domestic league title.
Against both Barcelona and Liverpool, Real Madrid’s stars stepped up to the mark. In the first leg against the English side, Toni Kroos was immense, dictating play and setting up goals with his wand of a right foot. In the same game, Vinícius Júnior showed why he is one of the hottest prospects in world football, while experienced heads Luka Modric and Casemiro ensured Liverpool’s midfield didn’t get a sniff.
In the second leg, it was the turn of Real Madrid’s defence to stand up and be counted. The back four gave a tremendous performance at Anfield, nullifying the threat of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, and proving that the Spanish side need not miss the presence of Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane at the back.
The fact that in between those two performances was another excellent display against Barcelona shows that this team still has plenty left to give this season. It might not have been a stellar campaign in every department this season, but there is still glory in the offing for Zidane’s Real Madrid as we approach the final stretch.