Return of Madrid
Spectators of the 2011-12 season witnessed Real Madrid rewrite the record books en route to yet another La Liga triumph, the 32nd league title in the club’s storied history. Portuguese star, Cristiano Ronaldo and company scored a record 121 goals throughout the season while cracking the 100-point plateau, both league records.
Looking ahead to this coming season, expectations have continued to rise with the success seen under manager Jose Mourinho. Ronaldo has become more of a leader, both on and off the pitch, while continuing to score at a torrid pace. The attacking duo of Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín has also been impressive in leading the front line. The three players combined for 58 goals scored, a stunning 48% of the club’s total offensive production.
Also playing a crucial role in the staggering offensive numbers produced was the midfield combination of Mesut Özil and Angel Di María. Both provided the club with exceptional service to the strikers, with the duo producing 24 and 16 assists, respectively.
Ronaldo captured many of the headlines during the 2011-12 season, but an unexpected player who made quite a name for himself was the youth academy standout Jose Callejón. The attacking midfielder has promised to deliver an even better performance this coming season, according to a report on Real Madrid’s official website.
“I just want to play. I hope to do better than last year and score more goals. I hope to achieve that aim,” said the youthful Callejón.
With the success of the previous season fresh in the minds of management, the club has been relatively quiet this summer in the transfer market. Two players departing the club were Hamit Altintop to Turkish club, Galatasaray and Fernando Gago to La Liga rivals, Valencia, with a handful more likely to follow suit.
One name repeatedly rumored to make a switch to Los Blancos is Croatian starlet Luka Modric. Madrid has been persistent on completing the deal, but English club, Tottenham Hotspur adamant on a price higher than the rumored Madrid offer of $40 million.
The 2012-13 season kicks off on August 19th against Valencia. Last season saw a clinical Los Blancos side defeat Real Zaragoza in the opener by a score of 6-0. Supporters of the club will expect a similar effort and result in their opening match this season. The first true test for Mourinho’s side comes on August 23rd, when Madrid faces FC Barcelona in the first El Clásico of the season. The clash is the 1st Leg of the Spanish Super Cup Final, and could determine how far the Galácticos have broken Barcelona’s domination.
The entire Madrid roster is prepared for the challenges looming and are poised for a successful run towards a Champions League triumph.
‘We want to win the league again, the Super Cup and then after two years of arriving at the doors of the Champions League final, we want to reach the final of Europe's main competition,’ claimed Iker Casillas in an interview with Spanish paper AS.
The Madristas currently find themselves on their pre-season tour of the United States, and the club has been enjoying their preparations for another La Liga title quest. After a disappointing defeat to Benfica in their first match, the club bounced back with a 5-1 thrashing of the defending MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy and a 2-1 victory over Mexican club, Santos Laguna. They will complete their tour with matches against Italian giants AC Milan and defending Scottish Premier League champions, Celtic, before arriving back in Madrid.
The main question surrounding Madrid this season will not be the possibility of another trophy, but rather the quantity of triumphs the club will enjoy. With spirits high and the direction of the club promising, the Madristas should brace for an exciting new campaign and another leap forward under the reigns of Jose Mourinho.Mourinho has already won the Champions League twice, with both FC Porto and Inter Milan in 2004 and 2010 respectively. There is little doubt that the ‘Special One ‘has the ability to bring the same glory to the grounds of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.