Only Thing Slowing Real Madrid Down Is The International Break

The only thing preventing Real Madrid from completely running away with La Liga is the fact that Carlo Ancelotti’s side stumbled out of the starting blocks; losing to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid during the opening weeks of the Spanish campaign.

Since their loss in the Madrid derby on September 13th, Los Blancos have gone unbeaten (no losses or draws) and outscored their opponents 52-7 in all competitions. They are on top of La Liga with 27 points after eleven matches and have already qualified for the Champions League Round of 16 with two group matches left to play.

Real Madrid biggest test of the early campaign was supposed to come in late October, when Barcelona traveled to the Santiago Bernabeu for this season’s first installment of ‘El Clasico’.

After allowing a goal to Neymar in the fourth minute of play, Madrid put three goals past the Catalans (to that point, Barcelona had yet to allow a goal in La Liga), beat their bitter rivals 3-1, and announced themselves as the team to beat in Spain.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who was an injury concern at the start of the season, has produced some of the best football of his career and mind-boggling statistics: 18 goals and 5 assists in only ten appearances.

Gareth Bale has been absent from Real Madrid’s squad for a number of weeks with a hip injury. The Welshman returned to the lineup as a second-half substitute this week against Liverpool in the Champions League, then joined Madrid’s starting eleven for this weekend’s La Liga contest against Rayo Vallecano.

It took the £80 million signing from Tottenam only nine minutes to score against Rayo and ignite Madrid’s 5-1 demolition of their Spanish opponent.

He returned to the squad without a hitch. It was as if he never missed a match.

Initial worries about the departure of some of the club’s most influential and well-liked players (Xabi Alonso and Angel di Maria), as well as concerns over how Madrid’s new signings (Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez) were fitting in at the club, have been quelled by the organizational and man-management skills of manager Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian boss has once again shuffled the deck and found a way to get Real Madrid’s wealth of talent to focus on a common goal. The 55-year-old is once again proving that he is the man to call on when it comes to managing big-time egos at a professional football club.

There has been some early talk around the Premier League that Chelsea could repeat the accomplishment of Arsene Wenger’s 2003-04 Arsenal side, which went through the league campaign undefeated. That Gunners squad earned the nickname ‘The Invincibles’ and will forever be remembered in Premier League history as one of England’s best squads.

Jose Mourinho’s squad appears to have all the necessary tools to accomplish that goal, but the manager himself believes that Chelsea’s unbeaten run will not last forever. Despite the quality in his squad, the Portuguese boss knows the difficulties of navigating a club through domestic and European fixtures.

“I think it is possible to be champion – before the season started we considered ourselves contenders but in modern football, especially the Premier League, I don’t believe in an unbeaten run,” Mourinho said after Chelsea’s 2-1 over Liverpool this weekend.

What Mourinho points out is that there are many variables than can effect a single match. The likelihood of a team beating the odds and obtaining ‘perfection’ are astronomical because there are so many things that can change the outcome of a game: injuries, suspensions, poor form, officiating decisions, pitch conditions – the list goes on and on.

If it weren’t for their slow start to season, Real Madrid would be staring at the possibility of going undefeated in La Liga and breaking numerous Spanish records. In spite of that, as it stands now, Los Blancos could go unbeaten straight into the Champions League final in Berlin. They are a frightening prospect to face both domestically and in Europe.

There doesn’t appear to be anything that can slow this remarkable Real Madrid side down…except perhaps the international break.

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