|Poland 1-1P Portugal||Wales vs Belgium||Germany vs Italy||France vs Iceland|
|Quarterfinal 1 - Jun 30 3pm||Quarterfinal 2 - Jul 1 3pm||Quarterfinal 3 - Jun 2 3pm||Quarterfinal 4 - Jul 3 3pm|
Before the start of the 2012/13 Spanish Primera Divison campaign, it was clear that Real Madrid would have a hard time defending their crown. Hitting 100 points last term was not a miracle – it was the result of intense work out, physically like mentally.
On their way to glory, they even claimed their first ever league victory at the Camp Nou since 2007. Many believe that if the Spanish giants lifted their 32nd La Liga trophy, it is because Barcelona were not at their best last term. While this could be a debate for another day, the fact remains that Real Madrid won the 2011/12 league title and are now struggling to defend it.
Significantly, Real Madrid are not just behind Barcelona in the standings but also below Atletico. The latter’s major strengths are the fruit of Radamel Falcao and Diego Simeone’s influence at the club. Meanwhile, Los Blancos possess much more than their city rivals on paper. Player for player, Real Madrid beat the Rojiblancos. Mourinho’s men underlined this judgment with a well-deserved victory in the Madrid derby in November 2012.
Still, overall, the Spanish Primera Division champions find themselves behind the reigning UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup winners. While Atletico finished 2012 on a good note, Real Madrid accumulated pressure on themselves with inconsistent results, questionable tactical decisions and sour communication with the media. All these factors marred Los Blancos’ last fixture before the winter break – a 3-2 loss to Malaga – only to sum up the negative aspect of the club’s current situation.
Starting the year 2013 seven points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid is definitely not an ideal thing for Florentino Perez’s club. During the second part of the La Liga campaign, Real Madrid’s expectation is to reclaim full authority in the Spanish capital while the conquest of Barcelona remains a task too hard to accomplish.
“There is no better way to begin the year than putting together some wins. That gets back some normality. That is what we want, primarily. It is true that the league is difficult, but not impossible.”
These words from Sergio Ramos to the press reflect Real Madrid’s intent to experience rebirth in 2013. Of course, league points get counted at the end of a season but in many instances, champions get crowned weeks before Matchday 38.
As things stand, for example, Barcelona are poised to run away with the title. In fact, they already have one hand on it.
|PRIMERA DIVISIÓN 2012/2013|
Too many factors encourage the Blaugrana to succeed this year: the desire to win the title for cancer-affected Tito Vilanova, the ambition to recover from the crucial loss in April 2012's Clasico and the explosive individual form of tasliman Lionel Messi.
In truth, Real Madrid might need to make a change of targets if Barcelona do not falter an inch. Los Blancos might have to fix their minds on nothing more than an automatic Champions League spot – in other words, a second or third-placed finish.
Jose Mourinho has won the Spanish Copa del Rey and the Spanish Primera Division already. To make history, he needs one trophy which Sergio Ramos spoke about on Thursday:
“Obviously there is a lot of love here for the Champions League, and we will try and go for that to bring back more joy for the fans.”
For Real Madrid, 2013 kicks off with a must-win match against Real Sociedad in La Liga but the focus of many is already on the club’s Last 16 battle in Europe against Cristiano Ronaldo’s former side, Manchester United.