Resilient Real Madrid have it all to play for

Still vying for a Champions League spot in the Primera Division table, and with hopes alive in two cup competitions, Real have proven they are a team who can bounce back, writes Martin Whiteley.

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One month into their second campaign, things looked bleak for Real Madrid with just one victory in seven games — but now they’re on a blistering winning run that’s made their horror start to the season a distant memory.

A 1-0 home win over Levante at the weekend gave Real their 14th win in the last 17 league games. The hosts had been frustrated by some wasteful finishing and a terrific save from visiting keeper Andreea Paraluta until the 90th minute when substitute Lorena Navarro finally found the back of the net with a close-range strike.

The current run has included just two losses and vaulted Las Blancas up to fourth in the table with 47 points. They also have a game in hand on the team immediately above them, Atletico Madrid. Win that contest away to basement side Rayo Vallecano, and the race to claim the final Champions League place would be back in their hands.

It’s no surprise that their upturn in form has coincided with marquee signing from Levante, Esther Gonzalez, hitting her stride. Earlier in the season, team-mates failed to find her in positions that she had been so deadly from for her old club and Spain but that all changed on Halloween last year when the star striker grabbed both goals in a 2-1 home win over Valencia — and she’s scored 11 more goals since then.

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Like every other club in Spain, Real’s nemesis at the moment is Barcelona, with their two league defeats on an otherwise fabulous run coming courtesy of the Catalan giants.

Barca have also come out on top in the cup contests played between the two sides. The latest came in the first leg of their quarter-final Champions League tie in midweek. After taking the lead, Real would eventually go down to a 3-1 defeat, with goals to make up in the second leg.

Real are also still in contention to win this season’s Copa de la Reina competition. An away trip to face Levante is their quarter-final test – a long-awaited fixture, after a Covid outbreak in the ranks of the hosts stopped the game from taking place on its original date.

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The daunting prospect for the winner of the remaining last-eight tie — along with the other semi-final participants UDG Tenerife and Sporting Huelva — is ever-threatening Barcelona.

Playing regularly against top teams like Barca does have its advantages. It allows you to constantly see your progression and where you need to keep improving.

A chance to be a part of special occasions is on offer, too. The second leg of the European tie on Wednesday could well take place in front of a crowd that rewrites the record books. Real certainly have the resources to keep battling away in their search for success. After this week’s latest performance, the players equally look ready to meet that challenge head on.

You can follow Martin on Twitter @673Martin

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