Before we begin lets make one thing clear. Whether or not Real Madrid retain the title depends greatly on how well Barcelona will perform. It is as simple as that.
Barcelona can only take back their La Liga crown based on how well Madrid play. The bafflingly simple logic of the situation mocks the overwhelming importance of the La Liga title yet it proves stunningly elementary. However strong the challenge is from one, the other must match and surpass it.
Madrid were unbeatable last season. Their points tally would have won every single La Liga title ever. Barcelona couldn’t match the impressive total despite the equally spectacular quantity of goals from Lionel Messi. Afraid of repeating myself, I fear that however well Cristiano Ronaldo plays this season will only be based against the performances of his rival Messi.
The upcoming season will have greater emphasis put on every aspect of our beloved game as we saw statistics tumble last year. Painful scrutiny is thrown onto the weight of expectation as we could well see fewer games lost and drawn. Whether or not this season will eclipse the previous one depends very much on the equality of two exceptional teams.
But enough of the less than ideal phenomenon that is the celebrity duo of the Spanish giants. Let us focus on just the title winners.
Centred around one Portuguese man and his prodigy, a similar plan of action shall be used once again, underlined by the lack of any new transfers whatsoever (though the addition of Luka Modric would be helpful). Be it 40 yards or a mere 4, Ronaldo believes he can score from anywhere. Often erratic and perhaps a hindrance at times, he scores from places with a greater frequency than anyone in the world, bar one.
A Tom & Jerry cartoon is the ideal comparison to Ronaldo vs Messi as the smaller, more likeable Messi regularly eclipses Ronaldo’s best efforts. Despite overwhelming in physical presence it always appears that Ronaldo very nearly manages to catch Messi only for him to squirm away again.
Yet Ronaldo had help last year with Higuain and Benzema by his side. Whereas Messi lost David Villa to injury and took on the responsibility of goalscoring, when Ronaldo didn’t fire, his two understudies took charge. Keeping both Higuain and Benzema happy remains the challenge Mourinho faces.
Many still consider Barcelona to be Spain’s greater force despite Real’s title win. Triumphing over the course of one league season is impressive but Barca’s shadow continues to cover the Bernabeu. Only a Champions League and La Liga double can go some way to knock the Catalans from their perch and be considered slightly the greater.
Immediately however that cannot be achieved. Causing more grief for their hated rivals is the goal for the moment. Gradually Real are asserting themselves but currently the emphasis remains with Barca. Madrid constantly enter El Clasicos as underdogs and lose the majority. Barcelona’s stranglehold on Spain domestically hasn’t loosened with a Copa del Rey win last year.
Winning the league once shocked us and made us take note. Doing it again will be an even greater achievement but reclaiming their European title for the 10th time is certainly the most alluring prospect on the Real Madrid board this year.
To become the force that they once were and dethrone Barca, Real must become the dominant force Barcelona arguably still are.
La Liga: 1st
Copa del Rey: Quarter-finals (lost to Barcelona 4-3 on agg)
Sergio Canales & Fernando Gago €5million each to Valencia
Hamit Altintop €3.5million to Galatasaray
Pedro Leon loan to Getafe
One to Watch: If you are a Madridista, Barcelona with your fingers crossed. Otherwise Ronaldo.
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