There has been much debate surrounding football dynasties and success of late, largely sparked by comments in January from Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, who conveniently omitted mention of Real Madrid and their three consecutive Champions League triumphs, when naming the three clubs he considered to be the best of the last decade.
Guardiola had claimed that Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus have been the most successful clubs in the last decade, based upon their consistent domestic league and cup triumphs. Needless to say, Santiago Solari reacted by insisting that his club were not only the best of the last decade, given their four European trophies in the last five seasons, but also “the best club of the last century,” per AS reports.
Backing the claims made by Solari, in February, France Football published their rankings to calculate which club could rightfully claim to be the best in the world. These rankings were based upon analysis of ten different categories, including variables such as trophies and individual player honours, TV and social media reach, club revenues and spending, club and player valuations, along with a more subjective and perceived rating for historical importance.
Topping France Football’s “Best Team in the World” rankings ahead of Barcelona and Manchester United, and by a comfortable margin, of course, Real Madrid proudly shared these findings via the official club website.
Whilst such debates make for interesting reading, with Real Madrid fans never in any doubt they support the most successful club side in history, Guardiola did have a valid point about their domestic record in recent seasons; regardless of winning four Champions League titles in the last five years. Arch-rivals Barcelona have dominated on the domestic front, winning La Liga seven times and the Copa del Rey six times in the last decade.
By comparison, Real Madrid have won La Liga twice and the Copa del Rey twice, during the same period, which will inevitably be a thorn in the side for fans, constantly demanding success in every competition. One trophy is never enough, for supporters who pack the Santiago Bernabeu. This is a club with a rich tradition and history to uphold, which makes the disappointing domestic record in recent years, even more of a bitter pill for them to swallow.
It’s fair to say that the appointment of Julen Lopetegui was an unmitigated disaster, but one Florentino Perez was swift to resolve when he sacked the former Spain head coach, then promoted Santiago Solari to the first team hotseat. Since then, the Club World Cup has been won again, performances and results have improved significantly and after lagging far behind early in the campaign, Real Madrid have closed the gap on Barcelona and remain in the hunt to win La Liga. The latest statistics and predictions back those ambitions.
After being paired together in the Copa del Rey and achieving a draw at the Camp Nou, recent form at the Santiago Bernabeu would suggest that Real Madrid can finish the job on home turf. Likewise, with another Clasico still to come in the league and Barcelona labouring to get results of late, there’s every chance Real Madrid can continue closing the gap at the top, as current standings in La Liga would suggest.
There’s still a long way to go, although February and March are traditionally the periods when Real Madrid kick into top gear. If the team can continue picking up valuable points and knock Barcelona out of the Copa del Rey, the 2018-19 season could well be one that is filled with domestic triumphs. That’s before we even think about the possibility of a remarkable fourth consecutive Champions League title. Guardiola could well be eating his words, come the end of the season.