Significant steps taken by rebranded Real Madrid

Although they are still in their infancy, the expectation surrounding a club like Real Madrid far exceeds that of your average newcomer, writes Martin Whiteley.

The harsh realities of life in the top-flight were quickly highlighted for Real when they suffered a 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona on the opening day of the season back in October.

Not to be deterred, however, Real followed up with a four-game unbeaten run — including three straight wins — to propel them towards the top of the fledgling Primera División Femenina table.

Despite conceding another four goals in their return game against Barca at the end of January, they did manage to score their first goal against them, thanks to a penalty from Olga Carmona.

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Those results against Barca were by no means a disgrace, as even well-established sides have not been able to slow down the juggernaut from Catalonia this campaign.

This weekend Barcelona made it 19 straight top-flight victories this season with a 5-0 success against Valencia on home soil.

That performance carried on the work the league leaders had done the previous Wednesday, when they defeated Fortuna Hjørring 5-0 (9-0 on aggregate) in Denmark. The result saw them through to the last-eight of the Champions League and a meeting with Manchester City. 

How Real would perform against the other sides closer to the summit — including neighbours Atlético — was perhaps more important to their progress than their results against the Catalonians.

Just before Christmas, Atleti had visited Real and left with an early present thanks to a single goal from Merel van Dongen. But this weekend it was Real who made their mark.

Things did not start well for the visitors when Carmona was dismissed with only 12 minutes on the clock. Having kept Atlético at bay, it was a single strike with just over 20 minutes remaining from Sweden international Sofia Jakobsson that claimed maximum points for Real.

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The loss for Las Rojiblancas dropped them to fifth in the table with 41 points from 22 games. There was more bad news for Atleti midweek when they exited the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate against Chelsea, despite drawing 1-1 in the second leg.

Victory for Real saw them remain in third position with 47 points, leaving them just one point behind Levante. The side from Valencia had their three-point advantage over Real cut after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to relegation-threatened Real Betis, with each side having 12 games remaining.

Real have efficiently dispatched all of the teams past the midway point of the league table and are now starting to cause significant problems to some of the sides close to the summit. For Real, to be able to take points off the likes of Atlético in their maiden campaign is certainly a massive boost.

The opportunity too of a third European place in Spain starting this season means that they still have a goal to aim for. To claw back Barcelona — well, that might take a bit more time and quite a few more Euros.

Follow Martin on Twitter at @673martin

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