Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Champions League is there for the taking for Madrid or Barcelona

While the Champions League has been away Real Madrid have been storming ahead in La Liga. Jose Mourinho’s team are now a massive 10 points clear at the top of the league having collected 58 points from a possible 66. In the Champions League this season Real Madrid’s record is immaculate. Winning all 6 group games, Madrid are the first team to have a 100% record since Barcelona 9 years ago in 2002. Real scored 19 goals and kept 5 clean sheets. From such a position of dominance, Madrid are arguably the best side in Europe right now.

The only problem for Madrid is that while they seem to be able to wipe the floor with everyone else on the continent, there is one obstacle that continues to trip them up. Despite clearly looking way off their best this season, Barcelona still have the upper hand in the head to heads. The two sides have met 5 times this season, Barcelona have won 3 and drawn 2, winning the Supercopa and knocking Madrid out of the Copa del Rey. This means that should the two teams meet again in the Champions League, Barcelona will feel that they still have the advantage over the La Liga leaders.

Since the end of the Group Stages Bayern Munich have slipped off the top of the Bundesliga, while Chelsea and Arsenal have both continued to falter in the Premier League. Napoli have stumbled into a very poor patch of form and while Milan may currently be top of Serie A, they too have looked far from convincing. Internazionale were shaping up to be contenders again after they won the Milan derby in January, but their form since has been horrendous and they have lost 4 of their last 5 matches.

Considering all of the above, it doesn’t seem as though anyone will be able challenge Madrid and Barcelona this year. Madrid are better than they were last season, and while Barcelona may be struggling in the league, very few teams get the better of them when it matters. The rest look weaker than in any other season. Both Manchester clubs being out clears the path a bit more, and while the other big experienced sides shouldn’t be completely written off, it is surely Madrid or Barcelona's tournament to lose now.

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