A win for Real Madrid against Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, will guarantee them a spot in the next stage of the Champions League.
With three group games left to play, and Los Blancos sitting pretty atop Group B, it would take a brave man to bet against them securing the points required.
And the quicker the better as far as Carlo Ancelotti is concerned. A fourth win on the bounce would allow the Italian the luxury of resting his big name stars in the final two “dead rubbers,” and ahead of the Club World Cup in December.
Real couldn’t really be approaching the fixture against Brendan Rodgers’ underperforming side in better shape.
Comfortably the highest scorers in all of the top leagues, their form has carried over into European football’s premier competition. 11 straight wins, 46 goals scored and seven conceded tells its own story.
An incessant work ethic allied to some sparkling interplay has been mesmeric to watch when in full flow and there’s been an understanding throughout the side that has bordered on the telepathic.
After waiting for over a decade for “La Decima” to arrive, it appears that no one associated with the club wants to hang around for too long before collecting a record-breaking 11th title, one which would create further history in the competition.
Should Real go all the way again, they will become the first team in the modern era to retain old “big ears”.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are leading the way in terms of trying to make that dream a reality.
A record 17 goals in the competition last season patently wasn’t enough for Ronaldo who just keeps pushing the envelope as to what is possible on the football field.
The Portugal captain has registered in every game so far, as has his French striker teammate, and it’s about time the “other” member of the BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) started to get the credit he so obviously deserves too.
The 5-1 demolition of Basel to open the defence of the trophy was as comprehensive as the score-line suggests. Four goals in the first 36 minutes ended the tie as a contest and it then became an exercise in just how many more Real could score.
At Ludogorets in the second game, arguably a little bit of complacency crept into Real’s play. David and Goliath had nothing on these two and it was the rank outsiders who had the cheek to take the lead just six minutes in.
It was the 77th minute before order had been restored, Benzema’s strike adding to a Ronaldo penalty from before half time.
Having never previously beaten Liverpool in European competition, the trip to Anfield represented a stiff test of Real’s credentials.
Were they pretenders to the throne or the real deal? The question was answered emphatically before half-time, the holders going in at the break 3-0 up, and coasting to victory.
With Toni Kroos pulling the strings in midfield, and currently providing more completed passes than anyone else in European football, Real have a conduit through which everything should pass.
The German’s importance in the role is outlined by how much freedom it allows the likes of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez to express themselves, and the goals for column speaks for itself.
Raphael Varane is beginning to show the form expected of a player many are tipping to become the world’s best centre-back and certainly Pepe and Sergio Ramos are being kept on their toes at this juncture.
On current form, perhaps only Chelsea – with a backs-against-the-wall defensive performance – and Bayern Munich – playing their own brand of expansive attacking football – could upset Real’s assault on more European Cup history.
Barring injuries, Los Blancos look well placed to give any team a battering and if the draw favours them, then there’s no reason why it won’t be all white on the night again in Berlin come June.
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