La Liga is coming back. Real Madrid plays in 10 days for the first time in nearly three months. To rewind and recap: The life was sucked out of the Clasico-win-party after the team lost in Sevilla to Real Betis. The players felt frustrated they didn’t enter the football hiatus as league leaders. They should’ve been on top. They’re not, for the same reason they have won only two league titles in the last 11 years: The locked-in killer-mentality doesn’t appear on a consistent basis. The grind of each game over the course of the 40-game season is not enough to discipline the team. Motivation is scattered.
Now there is nothing to focus on but getting into shape and winning every game left. There is no other tournament to zap the team’s domestic spotlight.
It almost feels like a new season is upon us. Tactical observations from three months ago (and prior) seem like they stem from a different era. The team’s state after losing to Manchester City and Betis is entirely different than it would’ve been had COVID-19 not infiltrated the globe. The second leg in Manchester, inside a packed stadium, would’ve been played already and without Eden Hazard. Now that game is likely going to be played long after the league has ended, and with Eden Hazard — and with plenty of time to ruminate that tactical failings of the first leg. How would you approach a second-leg fixture if it was played in almost entirely a different season? The mental state, the preparations, and everything in-between levels the playing field more than a 2 – 1 deficit would normally feel.
There is a strong case that now, more than ever, there are no excuses to drop points. What Barcelona does from here on in is out of Real Madrid’s control. But, it would be unfathomable if Quique Setien’s men don’t drop points in their remaining 11 games. In Real Madrid’s quest to pick up a victory in every game needed, the odds are skewed in their favour, and despite being second in the league table by a small margin, losing the league now, after the mental break and additional time for injured players to heal, should be viewed as an untenable failure. Continue reading