The good news? We're done. And we're back with a vengeance. Expect regular updates, and weekly podcasts from now until the end of the season--as much, if not more, Managing Madrid than you could ever want.
So. It looks like Madrid have lost the Liga. That's the bad news. Honestly, it was pretty much locked up since a week or so into January, but our home loss to Sporting clinched it. Mourinho lost his consecutive home matches won in the league streak (had to eventually happen, and I'm actually pretty glad it wasn't Barça who did it).
The good news? This might free the players up to chase the Champions more now. We can rest players in preparation for Champions League clashes during the weekends, and prepare our starters to face the much tougher challenge of playing against Spurs in England, and Barça in the Nou Camp. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade--so to speak.
Case in point: Madrid handily beat Athletic Bilbao over the weekend, with two goals from a resurgent Kaká (he looked better than I'd seen him in years). On the bench? Özil, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Xabi Alonso (among others). It was a great game all around, and it's good to see Kaká looking so happy on the pitch--we're going to need him for the stretch run.
Back to the Champions League: los blancos' game against Spurs was pretty much the Adebayor show. That guy owns Tottenham. He gave Madrid a great vertical threat (both of his goals were off his head), and he looked great all game--some people even think that he earned himself a spot on the team next year. While I'm not ready to say that, I'm definitely excited by the way he's playing, as he provides an aerial threat Madrid has sorely lacked.
The game was really decided by Peter Crouch, however, who with the score already 1-0 to Madrid made two idiotic, identical slide tackles within the space of five minutes. Boom--red card. Spurs lost their aerial threat, Bale's crosses didn't have a striker to put them away, and Madrid began to dominate possession. While los blancos' play should be lauded, Crouch really shot Spurs in the foot.
In terms of the return leg at White Hart Lane, Madrid would have to lose 5-0 to not qualify; if los vikingos score, the magic number would be 6-1; if they score twice, the magic number is 7-2. It's not a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination; at the same time, the odds are pretty slim that Madrid will give up 4 goals without scoring at least one, especially against a Spurs team without Crouch (suspended because of his red card).
Looking forward, then, los blancos have Barça in the Semifinals, the Final of the Copa, and then in the Liga. What a month--we should certainly consider it make-or-break for Mourinho. Get excited, people. Hala Madrid!