Real Madrid’s route to Berlin got one more step closer after managing to see of fierce rivals Atletico Madrid in the Quarter Final clash at the Santiago Bernabeu under the most dramatic of circumstances and there is certainly a positive feeling within Los Blancos’ camp that they can go on to become the first team in the modern era to defend the Champions League title.
Amid all the euphoria surrounding Real Madrid’s dramatic over Atletico, Los Blancos cannot afford to get too carried away as there is still a lot of work to be done both in La Liga as well as the Champions League in order to end the current campaign on a positive note.
While Madrid are more than aware of what they need to do in La Liga to be able to overhaul leaders Barcelona at the top of the table, the Spanish side will face an anxious wait till 12:00 CET to find out which team will be their opponents in the semi final stages of the Champions League.
The remaining sides in the competition are continental powerhouses Bayern Munich and Juventus as well as fierce local rivals Barcelona and clichéd as it may sound, it is true that whomever Madrid will be drawn against – there will be no easy tie.
There is somehow a sense of feeling that Madrid would prefer to face Juventus who have not looked overly convincing in the competition so far while some have even suggested that Bayern Munich would be a good opponent due to the fact that Los Blancos have the psychological edge over the Bavarian giants after thumping them in the semi finals en route to their Champions League wonderful victory last season.
One can certainly understand both points of view but the El Clasico against Barcelona in the semi finals would probably be the best possible draw for Madrid in my opinion and here is why.
Revenge is a dish best Served Cold
Revenge is a dangerous emotion in football and at times tends to bring out the worst in teams. By the same token though, it can prove to be a powerful motivation if channeled properly and Real Madrid have been long waiting for the day to get one over their rivals in the Champions League following the painful loss against Barcelona in the semi finals stages of the competition back in 2010/11.
Admittedly, Real Madrid and Barcelona have squared off against each other on numerous occasions since the infamous tie where Lionel Messi scored one of the best goals of the competition to silence the Bernabeu faithful but a meeting in the Champions League would add more significance to an already important rivalry.
It has to be said that Barcelona have looked better than Real in the knock out stages of the Champions League this term and perhaps a clash against Juventus would be an easier fixture. Nonetheless if indeed Real draw Barca in the semi finals – one can be sure that Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be more eager to get the result.
Of course only feelings of revenge and motivation based on anger is not enough to see off a quality side like Barcelona but with such an elusive as well as motivating carrot potentially put in place of Madrid, they will surely look to do everything possible in order to settle the long standing score against the enemy.
Confidence boost heading into the final and potential edge in La Liga
Staying in tune with the hypothetical nature of the piece, if indeed Real draw Barcelona and are able to claim victory over their rivals – it could hand the Spanish giants a double boost both in the Champions League as well as in La Liga.
Every team needs momentum heading into a final of a competition such as the Champions League and Madrid will not be able to think of a better preparation to the showpiece event at Berlin than a victory over Barcelona in the semis.
In addition, eliminating the Catalan side could also hand the psychological edge back into Madrid’s favour in what is turning out to be quite a thrilling title race in La Liga.
That said, every coin has two sides and if Madrid do go on to lose against Barcelona in the hypothetical semi final – the season could crumble to a disappointing end for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
However, let’s stay positive shall we and hope that Madrid can knock out Barcelona from the Champions League and in turn also snap the title away from their grasp domestically.
Ancelotti has the clear edge over Enrique in the Champions League
Throughout the course of the campaign Luis Enrique has proven himself to be a very good manager and deserves a lot of credit for Barcelona’s fine season this term.
However, it has to be stated that the Spaniard’s experience in the Champions League is a bit limited while Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is the grand daddy of Europe’s elite competition.
Top players are absolutely crucial for a team to do well in Europe but it is arguably the manager’s contribution which proves to be the main difference between a club going all the way or falling by the wayside and as Ancelotti has proven all his career – he is simply better than anyone else in engineering a victory for his side in the Champions League.
If one compares Champions League experience of the managers among the four remaining teams in the current edition, Enrique is the least experienced while Ancelotti is one of the greatest ever managers in the competition.
Despite Madrid’s seemingly shaky performances during the knock out stages, Ancelotti has enough wisdom to see off Enrique and the Italian will probably be more comfortable pitting his wits against the Barca boss than either Pep Guardiola or Massimiliano Allgeri over two legs.