A little over a decade ago, José Mourinho’s belly button was inflated for qualifying Madrid for the quarterfinals of the European Cup. This Friday, Real, which has more games than anyone else in its totemic tournament (470), will be in the draw for the best eight for the 38th time, the same as in 11 of the last 13 editions. These days, with a more realistic perspective than that of the Portuguese coach, who recognized him as the “fucking master”, he has stressed that “only Real Madrid can win every year”. Word of Pep Guardiola.
With five possible games for the 15th Cup, nothing guarantees another Real Madrid success, except that it is Real Madrid. The one who plays well, badly or regularly. The one who goes back for no reason in an unexpected outburst, the one who lets himself be carried to the edge of the abyss or scares away any remote flood of the rival, in the case of the duel with Liverpool. It is the Madrid that is chained to the throne despite saying goodbye to CR, Ramos or Bale. It is Real that has its latest famous signing in the dark room (Hazard), where Carlo Ancelotti does not give him a chat. The chatter is for Kroos, Modric and Benzema. After overcoming the deep void left by Di Stéfano and Amancio’s ye-yés, Real has perpetuated itself with Mijatovic, Raúl, Zidane… It is illogical to inquire into the causes. The Real is not meat big data and other laboratories. It transcends everything.
It is the Madrid capable of shaking up the rest of the European royalty while it is not so reliable in the League. It does not matter that he hits it on Sunday at the Camp Nou. Several of the Orejonas have been achieved with resounding domestic failures. It is that Madrid that thrashes Liverpool (6-2 overall) while discussing the ageism of Kroos and Modric, the slump of Benzema, the time Camavinga and Tchouameni still received a scholarship. Veterans and novices were not broken by the first half hour of submission at Anfield, where, precisely, the cookie trophy is not played. On the return, it became clear to Klopp’s men that miracles, in general, are matters that are settled in favor of Chamartín’s. It is the Madrid that felt the disappointment with Mbappé, when the great ironing has been felt again by the French genius.
In this Friday’s hype he will coincide with five other European champions (Inter, Milan, Benfica, Bayern and Chelsea), a serious candidate of these times (City) and the rookie Napoli, whom not even Maradona took to this level of the quarterfinals. Not a trace of United, PSG and, above all, Barça. As Thierry Henry maintains, “in Europe everyone fears Real Madrid and Real Madrid only fears Barça”. Messi through, of course.
As usual in successive draws, it is not a question of who Real wants, but rather that nobody wants Madrid, which causes spasms in anyone. It’s called altitude sickness. Liverpool, Chelsea, City, Juve know it well… What’s more, Bayern or City may have been better for the whites, because theirs are the most wintry eight-thousanders, not the tests with the Naples of the tongue-breaker Jvicha Kvaratskhelia. Anyway, you never know, but football Europe, even that of the most upstart plutocrats from the East, is usually white.
Mou must already know that there is nothing more classic than, at least, a Madrid in the quarterfinals and all of Europe on alert. Even if it later falls, which is obviously not ruled out. It’s football, yes, and it has its damn winks. It happens that the Real, with its egregious shield and encyclopedic history, knows almost everyone.
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