Real Madrid favourites for Champions League this season?

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It seems like a lifetime ago since Zinedine Zidane's superb volley secured Real Madrid's ninth Champions League title.

Since then, nine has become the unluckiest of number for the Spanish aristocrats and since their victory at Hampden Park over a decade ago, the club has watched as rivals Barcelona have lifted the trophy three times.

On Saturday, Real Madrid secured a routine 3-0 win over Elche in La Liga, moving three points clear of Barcelona who were beaten 3-1 at the hands of fourth placed Real Sociedad on the same night.

Even without leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Real still secured a comprehensive victory courtesy of goals from Asier Illarramendi, Gareth Bale and Isco. Ronaldo was serving a three match suspension, this was the club's final match without him.

The Portuguese winger has scored 34 goals in 32 games this season, ahead of Los Blancos' Champions League round of 16 tie against German side Schalke, starting with an away fixture on Wednesday. The Spanish side are hot favourites to advance to the quarter finals, certainly given their recent form and the strength in depth of the squad.

While the performances and goalscoring exploits of both Bale and Ronaldo have been vital to the side this season, equally so has been the form of Croatian star midfielder, Luka Modric who has been averaging a pass accuracy rate of 90% in the league.

There is real belief in the Madrid camp that the club can achieve success at the highest level in every competition this season, both domestically and in Europe. Ronaldo is looking to win the Champions League for the first time since 2008, back when he was a Manchester United star.

Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti has been regarded as one of the top manager's in Europe over the last twenty years, but it has been seven years since he lifted the giant trophy, that was back in 2007 with A.C. Milan.

Madrid's fiercest rivals in their quest for Champions League success this season you have to feel are domestic rivals Barcelona and holders Bayern Munich. If Madrid are to go all the way to the final in Lisbon, you'd think that at least one of these two sides will stand in their way of doing so.

Welsh winger and record signing Gareth Bale is looking for the first major trophy of his career. Now with perhaps the biggest club team in the world, he may begin his summer holidays with a La Liga, Copa Del Rey and a Champions League medal all to his name by the end of the season.

One thing is certain, if Madrid are to achieve such success come May, the club's form will have to remain excellent from here on out. The goals are a guarantee with a player like Cristiano Ronaldo in your side but with Xabi Alonso, Isco and Luka Modric all dominating in midfield creating the goalscoring opportunities, Los Blancos look as formidable as any other team in the world right now.

One could argue that Real are now the most complete team on the planet today.

The race for the league title is still extremely tight. And any one of the three competing teams could still walk away as league champions. Both Barcelona and neighbours Atletico Madrid continue to provide stiff competition for Ancelotti's men, however at this present moment certainly in league terms, it is advantage Real Madrid.

Do you think Real Madrid can win the treble this season? Have your say below.

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Gareth Bale
Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
UEFA Champions League

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