This year’s Champions League quarter-finals have been among the most memorable in recent memory, with a series of upsets, staggering comebacks and last minute heartbreaks sending fans across Europe into hysteria and misery in equal measure.
From Roma’s stunning second leg fightback to knock out Barcelona, to Liverpool upsetting Manchester City’s juggernaut with a display of sheer molten football, and Bayern’s clinical progression against a stubborn Sevilla side, it’s certainly been a set of matches to remember.
Real Madrid perhaps enjoyed the most dramatic of all the spectacles, after almost throwing away a 3-0 lead by conceding three home goals to Juventus in the second leg, before (who else?) Cristiano Ronaldo saved their skin with a last gasp penalty.
Los Blancos are clearly in the ascendancy now, and here’s five reasons why Zinedine Zidane’s side are going to win their third Champions League title on the trot in May.
5. They Know How to Play Under Pressure
Practice makes perfect, and Real Madrid have certainly become well acquainted with Champions League glory in recent seasons – winning three of the iconic trophies in the last five seasons.
When it comes down to the crunch, Los Blancos are the best equipped side out of the four semi-finalists to go the distance, and their proven track record of getting the job done at the tail end of the tournament will prove an invaluable asset in their push to retrain their European crown.
4. Most of the Big Boys Have Already Been Knocked Out
If you were to have offered Los Blancos the lineup of Roma, Liverpool and Bayern Munich as fellow semi-finalists at the start of the season, they’d have ripped your arm off.
Now it’s not to say that these sides aren’t very good – let us not forget that Bayern have already wrapped up Bundesliga in imperious fashion – but they’re clearly a more pleasing proposition than facing say Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, or their arch-rivals Barcelona.
Liverpool and Roma have stunned the footballing world with their dramatic performances in the latter stages, but a clash against Real Madrid could prove a challenge too far.
3. Sergio Ramos’ Return Will Vastly Strengthen Their Defence
Let’s be honest, Real Madrid looked staggering ill-equipped to defend against Juventus on Wednesday night, but the return of born leader Sergio Ramos will be a massive boost to the club’s chances for the remainder of the competition.
The veteran defender has been there and done it all before, and has a real knack for popping up in massive games and powering home match winning headers. While youth and exuberance has its time and place, it’s the experienced heads who consistently deliver when it comes to the massive occasions.
2. Zinedine Zidane Will Thrive Under the Pressure to Save His Job
Given Real Madrid’s less than impressive season in La Liga, Zidane will be under massive pressure to win the competition and save his job at the Bernabéu.
If there’s one thing Los Blancos fans don’t tolerate, it’s a lack of success, and Zidane will be all too aware that failure could spell the end of his sensational first foray into management with the Spanish side.
If there’s one thing Zidane has proved during his time with Real, it’s that he knows how to respond under pressure – let’s just forget about that moment in the 2006 World Cup for a moment – and is more than capable of leading his team to glory again.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s as Simple as That.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Well, machine.
As the seconds ticked away at the Bernabéu, with Real Madrid’s hopes of winning the Champions League rapidly slipping away, there’s a fair chance that ‘CR7’ knew deep down he was going to be the won to save his side.
Arguably the best footballer in the world – hell, some have even claimed of all time – Ronaldo is the kind of weapon that no other side in the semi-finals can offer. The Portuguese sensation is on an outrageous run of form of late, and he’s bound to propel his side to Champions League ecstasy once again.