“I believe Madrid could lose La Liga, because Barcelona is also fighting and we have not won anything. We have never said that we had won it already. Our rivals also have a lot to play for and we cannot solely live off being eight or 10 points ahead.”
These were the words of Real Madrid keeper and captain Iker Casillas after their goalless draw against Valencia on Sunday.
The stalemate cut Madrid’s lead at the top to just four points with a game still coming up against their rivals Barcelona in Camp Nou.
A month ago, Madrid was cruising to the league title and were on top of the league with 10 points and it was just a matter of time before they are crowned champions but three draws in their last six games have blown the title race wide open while Barcelona has hit peak form at the right time having recorded six wins in that particular period.
The alarm bells have started to ring at the Bernabeau and Madrid knows for them to have any hope of winning the league, results have to start coming in fast.
Complacency and overconfidence could be the reason for the cut in Madrid’s lead from 10 to four points within a space of three weeks. Madrid players are crumbling under the pressure. Unlike Barcelona players, most Madrid players have not won the league in Spain before and don’t know how to deal with pressure in title runs ins.
Players like Ozil, Di Maria, Khedira and Benzema don’t have that title winning experience unlike Barcelona players who are used to winning the league save for Fabregas and Sanchez. Real Madrid coach will be desperate to win the league for the capital club as he was brought in to stop Barcelona’s dominance in the league and Champions League.
Last season, Madrid won only the Copa Del Rey while Barcelona won the league and Champions League. Mourinho knows he must deliver trophies for the team or face the exit door.
Despite smashing all their opponents this season and playing attractive football, Madrid fans are still not happy that they have not found the formula to beat Barcelona and that they must do next weekend.
Two games that will decide Madrid’s fate this season is the El Classico next weekend and the game against Athletico Bilbao away. These two games could make or mar their title chances. Sandwiched between the El Classico is the Champions League semi finals for both teams.
On paper, Madrid has the hardest tie as Bayern Munich will be a tough nut to crack and they cannot afford to rest any of their top players in the league games while Barcelona has a game against Chelsea. A game many say favours the Catalans to win easily.
Madrid hosts Sporting Gijon this weekend at the Santiago Bernabeau in a game they will definitely take all three points. Sporting Gijon is deep in the relegation zone and it will take something extraordinary for them to escape relegation this season. Real Zaragoza and Racing Santander are the other two teams that will likely be relegated this season.
Barcelona has a tough game away to Levante in a game they must win. Levante is on a fairy tale and is fighting for the Champions League spot with five other teams.
They have a good record at home and will want to put a dent on the Catalans’ title hopes. Last season, Barcelona won the league at Levante and will be hoping for a similar fortune this time around. But Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola doesn’t believe his team will catch Madrid and win the league for the fourth straight year. He said: “In the history of the league no one has ever overturned a 10-point advantage.
It is almost impossible for us to be champions. Now everyone seems to think we have them beaten, a team that will break the league goal-scoring record. People seem to take it that we will beat them when they come here (for the ‘clasico’). Madrid will come here knowing if they beat us they will be champions.”
The league title is still Madrid’s to lose as they know a draw or win at the Nou Camp will effectively give them the league title. They must believe they can win the league and start focusing on their game rather than on Barcelona.
After the Classico game, the most important game for both teams fall on May 2 where Madrid will play away to Bilbao and Barcelona will play Malaga.
The pressure is definitely on Mourinho and Ronaldo to deliver as most people have written off Barcelona’s chances two months ago when they fell 10 points behind. Pundits believe that the La Liga is still Madrid’s to win or lose.