Manuel Queimadelos Alonso
Real Madrid’s loss percentage this season is 23% after 13 games. After the same amount of games during last season’s title winning campaign it was just 7%. Mourinho’s men have dropped 13 points before Christmas, last season they only dropped 14 in total.
Barcelona have won all but one game this term and Madrid are only three points adrift. The problem for José is that it is Atlético Madrid. The Madrid derby comes this weekend and any result can be taken as a positive for Barça. If Real win, Atlético lose ground. If Atletico win, the gap increases. If it ends as a draw, both Madrids lose ground on Tito Vilanova's side.
So the question has to be asked, have Barcelona already won the title? A level-headed man would say no, as did Vilanova. Asked if the league was finished he responded "No. There are still 75 points left and Atlético are only three points behind us."
The current Barcelona manager also eluded to his first season as assistant "I remind you that we had this advantage in our first year with the senior side and we had to win our match at the Santiago Bernabéu."
By no means is the league dead and buried, but it is on it's way out.
La Liga is a ridiculous league. Ridiculous because the top two teams rack up ludicrously high point totals. A tally so large that they could win any other league but still finish second in their own. That is why the margin for error is so slim.
A three point gap, while big in other major leagues, is monumental in La Liga. So an eleven point gap is a huge chasm between the league leaders and the reigning champions.
Barcelona this season have made a point of winning the games that cost them the title last season. Tough tests such as Levante are paramount to Barça's title ambitions. A late brace from Lionel Messi earned Barça's victory last season while this season there was no need for panic. Andrés Iniesta ran the show, scoring one and assisting three, as Barcelona ran away 4-0 victors.
The mentality has changed. No longer are Barcelona the pretty side who can't handle the physical aspect of the game. Tito has made them direct. Long kicks from Valdés, corners being aimed at the daunting presence of Gerard Piqué, fewer touches in-between passes. Coupled with the relentless winning mentality of the squad, Barcelona are stronger this season and have not even reached the peak of their talent.
Madrid are the opposite. They've lost that brutal edge that saw them dominate and destroy opponents last season. The snapshot counterattack has become slower, more dogged. The players mentality has changed and some have become complacent, focusing on bigger contracts instead of the next match. Bust-ups off the field have become more prevalent then ever before under Mourinho.
You get the feeling that this team is one slip away from imploding in on itself.
The purchase of Luka Modrić for the inflated price of £33 million is a puzzling one. When he first signed there was question over where in this team he would play. Modrić has never been a midfielder who likes to play just behind the central striker in the Özil mould, but the roles of Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso are too defensive to really accommodate the ex-Spurs man.
So why did Madrid choose him? Modrić made it clear he wanted to go to the Spanish capital but surely a player such as Santi Cazorla, who Madrid had wanted to sign before he eventually moved to Arsenal for £16 million, would have been a better fit? The Spanish playmaker has blossomed in the English capital and seems like a natural fit for this current Madrid side. Suitable to play the role of Özil, Cazorla can play as a false 10 behind the likes of Benzema or Higuaín. So why go for Modrić? A player who costs twice as much as Cazorla and has no natural position in the team.
Mourinho's desire to see Modrić become a staple of the team has hindered the side. And Mourinho knows it. The Portuguese manager has been harsh on his Croatian signing. Wanting more than just a central midfielder, he wants to see Modrić push further up the pitch but Modrić is struggling. It is a problem that the "Special One" needs to sort out fast.
It is hard to not see Atlético at some point slipping this season, especially if Falcao leaves in January. For Real Madrid on the other hand, the title is salvageable, just. But eleven points is the maximum, any more and the title will be heading to Catalonia and Mourinho will most likely be heading out the door.
Can Real Madrid comeback?
Yes (24 votes)
No (49 votes)
73 total votes