After some mid week European action, the Premier League was back in action and as usual there’s plenty to talk about.
After a compelling season where Los Blancos went on to claim their record 10th Champions League trophy, Real Madrid are now being primed for yet another assault on Europe’s premier competition.
The club from the Spanish capital had also won the Copa del Rey in emphatic fashion in Carlo Ancelotti’s first season at the club.
They are in hot form currently and any doubts over their credibility have been dispelled after the demolition of Liverpool at Anfield in midweek followed by a similarly mind-boggling performance against fierce rivals Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After yet another off season of investing heavily on players while letting others go, Madrid are certainly looking like a winning team again.
Much had been made about the sale of Angel di Maria to Manchester United in quite the same manner in which Mesut Oezil’s departure to Arsenal the previous summer had been scorned upon.
However, the arrivals of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez to the fold have proved to be a clever move so far, with the team playing some of their best football in recent times.
As far as last season is concerned, Real had finished in third place behind champions Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga. While Atletico were deservedly crowned champions after a great season under Diego Simeone, Barcelona finished on the same points as Real, edging ahead of the Madrid club on goal difference.
Curiously, Real first took down Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia and went on to defeat Atletico at the final of the UEFA Champions League in Lisbon.
Club president Florentino Perez’s Galacticos policy finally bore fruit as Gareth Bale, the world record singing from Tottenham Hotspur, powered the team to victory on both occasions.
The Welsh winger showed immense pace and power to outmuscle and outrun Dani Alves and the rest of the Barcelona defence before putting the ball in the net in the dying moments of the game against Barca at the Mestalla.
Bale was in the thick of the action in Lisbon as well. Although Real won the final 4-1 against Atletico, the game had remained at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
The winger showed immense endurance during the first period of extra time to run at breakneck pace and head Angel di Maria’s cross into the goal to make it 2-1. The match only opened up after the goal and it proved that Perez’s acquisition of Bale had been instrumental in transforming the fortunes of the club.
Following the club’s success last season, even the market value of their players had increased a great deal, showing that Perez knows how to do business.
That much was evident when Perez played hardball with Manchester United with Di Maria, who left for an estimated 63 million pounds in the summer. In the few months this season, what has been quite evident is the fact that the likes of James and Kroos have more than compensated for the sale of Di Maria and Xabi Alonso to European rival clubs.
While the initial sale of the club’s most popular players had not gone down too well with the rest of the squad, as well as the fans, the president stands vindicated as of now. Both Di Maria and Alonso had featured in stellar roles for the club as it won a couple of important trophies.
But the arrival of the new players has helped the club launch an assault on La Liga and the Champions League once again, while the marketing department has also gone into overdrive thanks to the shirt sales figures being reported by the club.
Despite not having started the season well after the hiring and firing of players, which has now become a norm at the club during the off season, Ancelotti’s side are now making visual progress and are playing a very attractive and effective brand of football.
In one week, they have swept aside challenges from Liverpool and Barcelona, trimming the latter’s lead in La Liga to a single point. Such was their supremacy that they had made both sides look pretty ordinary on the two nights.
One player who is looking in extremely good shape and has been scoring for fun is Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has been a part of all the good things that this side have been doing in attack for a while now and his figures this season have been quite astonishing.
Last night, the former Manchester United star claimed a couple of accolades for his efforts in La Liga last season. He is also the favourite for the FIFA Ballon d’Or which will also be awarded soon. Ronaldo is expected to pip Lionel Messi to the trophy for the second time in succession.
If things keep moving in the same direction as they have for the past couple of months, this Madrid team could prove to be extremely hard to stop and can beat any opponent on any given day.