Only the future will decide if this Real Madrid side will end their twelve-year wait for the prestigious and much desired tenth Champions League trophy as Lisbon prepares for a momentous final in just nine days time.
La Decima, as it is often referred to in Spain, has been an obsession for Madrid ever since Zinedine Zidane’s artful volley secured Los Blancos’ ninth Champions League trophy win against Bayern Leverkusen in 2002.
Since Vicente Del Bosque guided them to greatness that year, Real Madrid have had a total of 11 managers. World class managerial talents such as Fabio Capello, Bernd Schuster, Manuel Pelligrini and Jose Mourinho have all been bought in with the aim of winning the coveted tenth Champions League but all have failed.
Carlo Ancelotti, the man bought in from PSG last summer, has the highest ever win percentage of any Madrid manager winning 80% of his matches and his side’s demolition of Bayern Munich in the semi-finals will give great belief to a club that have too often lacked unity in recent years.
Since that unbelievable night in Munich, however, Ancelotti’s side have managed to collect just two points out of a possible nine in La Liga, leaving their hopes of a treble in tatters.
Of course all will be forgotten if Ancelotti’s men win La Decima, however, if their city rivals can overcome them in Lisbon Los Blancos will look back at a league campaign that promised so much, yet ultimately faded into insignificance.
If Madrid had beaten Celta Vigo, a side playing only for personal pride, they would have been second in the table going into the final day of the season and still in with a chance of the title.
Ancelotti’s team sheet for the tie, however, included no Ronaldo, no Bale, no Benzema and no Di Maria with Alvaro Arebloa and Sami Khedira returning from long spells on the treatment table.
It was clearer than ever just how much Madrid crave La Decima.
This year’s La Liga has been nothing other than enthralling with all three teams fighting for top spot. Barcelona’s quality and experience, Real Madrid’s flair, led by the sensational Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Simeone’s ruthlessly efficient Atleltico side have ensured that this title race will never be forgotten.
There have been some incredible battles this season as the pendulum swung between all three sides driving towards the title. The last three weeks, however, have been one long stutter in a campaign of fluent intensity that has left many spectators wondering which team really wants the title the most.
Atletico should be walking out at the Nou Camp to a champion’s ovation and only have themselves to blame for not already being over the line. Madrid may never have a front line as on form as Ronaldo and Bale have been this season and will be devastated not to have capitalized on the capitulation of their fellow competitors. Barcelona, likewise will feel like they have missed an opportunity to retain their La Liga crown given the stumbling form of their opponents and a trophyless season will almost certainly confirm the end of Tata Martino’s unconvincing reign.
La Liga is going down to the wire and the final day clash at the Nou Camp is as close to a La Liga final as we have seen in years. If Diego Simeone’s men are to claim the La Liga title they may well have the belief to take the Champions League as well. If they capitulate against Barca, Real will have the momentum going into the final in Lisbon.
The script is all but written bar the final chapter.
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