Real Madrid will play 8 matches in the space of 24 days in the month of April, with 6 of these matches coming in La Liga and the other 2 being the Champions League quarter-final tie vs Atletico. Real currently sit 4 points behind leaders Barcelona in La Liga with only 10 matches to go, so performing well in the last stretch is beyond crucial for Ancelotti’s men. Therefore, playing 6 league matches in a month will be a huge factor in determining wether Real Madrid win their first Liga title in 3 years. What makes these 6 matches particularly important for Real’s Liga campaign is that they are relatively easy matches, even though we know that sort of thing can surprise big teams regularly. Real Madrid will play 4 of those 6 Liga matches at the Santiago Bernabeu vs teams like Granada, Eibar, Malaga, and Almeria. While their only 2 away matches of the run will be vs Rayo Vallecano and Celta Vigo, certainly not easy matches but not yet on the same level as of Real. So April will be Real’s best chance at getting any chance of pulling themselves back to the Liga race as Barcelona face Sevilla, Valencia, Espanyol and Celta Vigo during April.
Ancelotti’s men will start April with a home match vs Granada, the team that currently sits in 19th place and has the weakest attack in all of La Liga so far this season with just 18 goals scored in 28 matches. This is followed up by an away match vs Rayo Vallecano, who are completely unpredictable which is evidenced by their Liga record this season. They have lost 15 of their 28 matches and conceded 50 goals yet they still sit in 11th place with 11 wins and 33 goals scored. Furthermore, Rayo have managed to score in 10 of their 14 home matches in La Liga this season, however they will come up against the biggest goal scorers away from home when they face Real Madrid. 3 days after that, Real Madrid host Eibar in a match that should prove easy for the reigning European champions as Eibar have won none of their last 10 matches in La Liga, with 9 of those being losses. They have also only managed to score just one goal in their last 7 matches, therefore no one can really blamed when they expect this to be a one-sided drubbing. Real then move on to Malaga at the Bernabeu, a match that maybe once was considered a ‘shoe-in’ until Malaga managed to defeat Barcelona at the Camp Nou this season. This coupled with the fact that the match will take place in-between the 2 quarter-final Champions League ties vs Atletico means that this is likely to be an intense and fiery match for Ancelotti’s players. Real Madrid then move on to perhaps their toughest league fixture in April when they travel to face Celta Vigo, a team that has lost just 3 of their 13 home Liga matches this season. And Carlo Ancelotti surely remembers his team’s trip their last season when the white’s succumbed to a 2-0 defeat that had a much more prominent impact on the team’s Liga campaign than anyone could’ve imagined at the time. Therefore this match will likely serve as a redemption pit-stop for Real. What makes this match even more difficult to guess is the fact that this will be directly after Real host Atletico in the return fixture in the Champions League, so it will definitely be influenced by that tie’s outcome. Real then finally wrap up April with a relatively comfortable round that sees them host Almeria, who currently sit just one spot above the relegation zone. So if Real Madrid want to have the slightest of chances at getting back in the title race, they have the perfect opportunity in April as they play 4 of the 6 matches at home while facing perhaps less-dangerous opponents, especially when compared to their direct rivals Barcelona in the same period.
On a European scale, Real will contest the 7th and 8th Madrid Derbies of this season alone, marking the first time in history that Real Madrid have faced the same team 8 times within a single season, also meaning it is the first time there has ever been 8 Madrid Derbies in one season. And Real’s record vs their smaller neighbouring club this season has been abysmal, with 4 defeats and 2 draws out of 6 matches. The draw and defeat in the Supercopa robbed Real’s chance of a second trophy in the space of a week (after the UEFA Super Cup), while the 2 league defeats hampered their chances at keeping the lead. The draw and defeat in the Copa del Rey also knocked out Ancelotti’s men from the 2nd round, so when the draw pitted these two teams together, it wasn’t really a surprise to see Madridistas being pessimistic while Atletico fans seemed content with the draw. And who can blame either sides, with Atletico going on a 6-match undefeated run vs Real, which is quite unbelievable when you consider that Atletico have won more madrid Derbies this season (4) than they have in the last 15 seasons combined. Atletico have proven to be Ancelotti’s ‘kryptonite’ in his time with Real Madrid, however when it really mattered, like in the final of the Champions League last season, Real have been able to trump their neighbours.
So, with 6 possible finals in the league and a extremely difficult tie in the Champions League, April is shaping up to be the month which will likely carry very heavy implications, both in terms of trophies and players/staff futures. Madridistas can only hope that the recent international break, coupled with the return of James and Luka getting heavily involved, will restore the team’s confidence and will help in regaining the fantastic form the team displayed in October to December last year.