Seven games to go and little but pride to play for. Madrid head into relatively unknown territory for the final straight of the 2018/19 season with only one thing on their mind – next season.
Leganés, Athletic Club, Getafe, Rayo Vallecano, Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Real Betis. Seven games in which, normally, Madrid would be expected to take maximum points from. But this hasn’t been a normal season.
Points have been dropped here, there and everywhere – and there will still be more points dropped between now and the end of the season. That should be of little concern to madrididistas, however.
When Zinedine Zidane made his welcome return to the Santiago Bernabéu the talk was of instant change. A magic wand that would right all the wrongs of the Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari era. Wins here, excellent football there, goals everywhere. That hasn’t materialised. There seems to be little momentum building to take into next season but that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter.
“We must be motivated if we’re to finish as high up as possible,” said Zidane in his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s trip to Butarque to face Madrid neighbours Leganés. Nothing less would be allowed with the stature of Madrid. But while Zidane won’t say publicly that all thoughts are already on next season, that’s exactly where they are right now. Holiday mode is on, the futures of certain players are up in the air and work is going on behind the scenes to bolster a rusty squad.
So whatever happens in these next seven matches should be of little significance for Madrid fans. Some pride may take a hit, especially as Barcelona wrap up LaLiga and target a historic treble with the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but that hit will all be worth it if Los Blancos use this months to get things right for next season.
Madrid would usually be expected to make light work of their forthcoming opponents but the only real surprise would be if Zidane’s men come through these matches with no more negative results and performances, be it Athletic, Betis, Rayo or Villarreal.
Seven matches and six weeks remain of this season-to-forget but madrididstas should play the waiting game and not become too downbeat over what’s to come between now and the end of the season.
Good things come to those who wait…