Real Madrid hammered Schalke 6-1 in Germany on Wednesday night to take a giant step towards the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Braces from Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo made for a breath-taking spectacle, with former Madrid strike Klaus Jan Huntelaar’s goal at the end just mere consolation for the home side.
And now, after years of heartache on the European scene, can Carlo Ancelotti’s men emulate the class of 2002 and lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in 12 years?
It has been a task charged to the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlos Quieroz and Manuel Pellegrini in the past. All have boasted fantastic squads, only to fall infuriatingly short.
The failure to lift the trophy Madridistas fans crave the most have cost them their jobs. At the Santiago Bernabeu, it is more than a desire.
It is an obsession.
The night where Zinedine Zidane enchanted a Hamden Park crowd with the most artistic of volleys against Bayer Leverkusen seems a very long time ago.
In that time, fierce rivals Barcelona have won the trophy twice, whilst AC Milan, Liverpool and Porto have also emerged victorious.
It has been a dark spell, but there is growing optimism in the Spanish capital that this could be a special year.
Domestically, Madrid have been imperious. They reached the final of the Copa Del Rey with a 5-0 win over city rivals Atletico and currently lead both them and Barcelona by three points at the La Liga summit.
They boast officially the best player in the world in Ronaldo, but the form of Bale and Benzema makes them far from a one-man team.
And when coupled with the likes of Isco, Angel Di Maria and Jese it makes their attack the best in world football.
Two semi-final defeats in two years to German opposition (Bayern Munich in 2012 and Borussia Dortmund in 2013) have only increased the thirst for the biggest prize on the planet.
Ancelotti is a manager that has won league titles with AC Milan, Chelsea and Paris St Germain and his far more diplomatic approach has meant he be revered and not loathed like his predecessor Mourinho.
Such is his popularity, the transfer of fan favourite Mesut Ozil to Arsenal last August has been confined to memory, his influence not missed due to Real’s potent attacking quartet.
The same dressing room issues that hampered Mourinho’s final season in Spain have not reappeared this campaign. The mood in and around the club is far greater than in previous years.
Madrid fans can now dare to dream of being European kings once again.
The ghost of Zidane’s volley in Scotland all those years ago fades that little bit more.
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