El Centrocampista

IS THIS THE YEAR FOR REAL MADRID?

While most Madridistas would say 2011 was a good year, especially the latter half of it, the fact remains it belonged to Pep Guardiola and Futbol Club Barcelona.

Going into 2012 however, fans of Real Madrid have every reason to feel optimistic about their club’s prospects of finally wresting the La Liga trophy from the firm grip of their bitter rivals.

Even the most ardent Mourinho fan would struggle to suggest his side came close to matching the achievements of the Catalans last season, in fact they would be downright lying as the club’s solitary trophy, the Copa Del Ray was deemed only good enough to drop under the celebration bus by Sergio Ramos.

Apart from showing that Iker Casillas doesn’t have much to fear for his number one shirt, Ramos provided the best moment of 2011 in a comedic sense, and allowed the creation of some twitter jokes to rival those about Mad Mario.

All that aside, Barcelona took La Liga and the Champions’ League, showing Mourinho that Real simply had to improve if they were to even come close to genuinely rivalling them.

The first real sign of the work which took place over the summer came in the Super Copa, with Real unlucky to lose the two-legged tie.

After a difficult couple of games including the loss at the Ciudad de Valencia to a brilliant Levante however, the side finally found some form.

Real have not looked back since, and despite again losing to Barça at what seems to be their home from home, the Santiago Bernabeu, Los Blancos went into the winter break top of the table having just thumped Sevilla 6-2.

Critics point to having lost el clásico again, but in truth the chances were created and eventually the mental block against beating Barcelona will surely break.

The summer signings have fitted in well, and the return of Jose Maria Callejon has been a great success – the young Spaniard has impressed and already has one foot in Mourinho’s starting line-up.

In addition to the new arrivals,  Angel Di Maria has been in fantastic form and even Kaka has looked like getting back to his best once more.

Not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo who scored 43 goals last year and continues to defy all expectations.

Recent history has shown however that Barcelona have a habit of riding any challenge and emerging stronger, whether this will be the case this season, only time will tell.

What is certain is that fans of los blancos have a sense of anticipation that has been absent in recent seasons – the progress has been made at the Bernabeu, and the results are clearly visible.

Florentino Perez must also be feeling quietly confident as the season goes into a new year – seeking some vindication for the unprecedented control he has handed his Portuguese coach.

It has been a tough few seasons for the president who has tried and failed to let both the board and the ‘galticos‘ run the team in the past.

Now he has placed his faith in the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ and you get the feeling that if that fails, it will be back to square one.




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