Jose Mourinho’s side are 13 points behind Barcelona already, and they have little hope of defending their league title as a result, meaning they only really have the Champions League to play for.
When Jose Mourinho was appointed at Real Madrid his main job was undoubtedly to win the Champions League for the club. That his side reasserted some measure of domestic dominance by winning the league title over Barcelona last season was a great success, but it is their first European glory since 2002 that the club were seeking when they brought in the Portuguese manager.
It was also European glory that made Mourinho move to Spain, as he aims to become the first manager to win the Champions League with three different clubs. An uneasy alliance has been present between the club’s board and their outspoken manager since his appointment, as each look to complete their own aims despite repeated disagreements.
Mourinho’s spell at Real Madrid looks certain to end in the summer, meaning that this is the last year he can potentially win the Champions League with the club. Their league form has been a disaster so far this season, but this will mean little to either the clubs board or Mourinho himself if he can mastermind a win in Europe.
The campaign hasn’t gone perfectly so far, with Madrid finishing behind Dortmund in their group to create the possibility of a nightmare first knockout round tie against the likes of Bayern Munich, who put them out in last year’s semi-final.
However as the Portuguese manager has been keen to point out himself, on the last two occasions he has finished second in his Champions League group he has won the title. Also with the league title already looking unlikely, Madrid and Mourinho will now be completely focussed on the Champions League, and few would argue that on a given match day, a fresh Real Madrid squad paired with Mourinho as manager cannot match any team in the world.
The idea of a last hurrah in Madrid no doubt appeals to Mourinho’s sense of his own narrative, and should he win the trophy no-one could argue his time there wasn’t a success.
For all their struggles so far this season, Real Madrid are amongst the very favourites for the Champions League, and you’d be brave to bet against Mourinho leaving Madrid on the highest of notes.
Manchester United fans will have to cross their fingers they do not become casualties along the way.
image: © apasciuto