Real Madrid are one game and one point ahead of Barcelona in the 2011-2012 edition of la Liga BBVA, with seven games to be played. If you had told me in September that Madrid would have that lead now, I would have signed up immediately. Like where-do-I-sign-OH-GOD-WHERE'S-MY PEN?! immediately. And if you told me that they'd also be in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League against strong, but beatable Bayern Munich side? Well, let's just say it wouldn't have been pretty.
But that's the problem with these situations--without the context, the how did we get here?, everything loses meaning. The fact that Madrid owned a 10 point lead only a month ago? The fact that it looked like Barcelona had finally cracked? Well, after three draws and a very, very complicated April coming up, things aren't looking so rosey any more. But that's where I come in. Follow me on a little journey I'd like to call "How to Make the Most of It in A Few Simple Steps".
And yes, I'm back from my Spring trip to Germany to visit a friend (and while I'm shamelessly talking about myself, check out this awesome webseries my friends made. You'll love it.). It's great to see you all, and I'm very impressed with how Lucas, Dennis, Laila and company worked while I was gone.Step 1: Think about it this way: what if Madrid had coasted to a Liga title, making the second Clasico unimportant--so much so that Mourinho started his bench to rest his starters for Munich, and Barcelona scored 7? I know this probably wouldn't have happened...but I'd take an exciting Liga where Madrid has to prove that they're better than Barça by beating them over a destruction in the Nou Camp. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And I think this Madrid side has what it takes. If nothing else, this month will prove whether this side has really made it or not--and if not, it's exciting to see where they can go.
Step 2: Not convinced? Ok, fair enough. But how about this: isn't it more fun to watch competitive games? Rolling over every side is nice for morale, but is it really entertaining? I know this is a more meta argument, but hear me out: ultimately, your best sports memories come from sides that face adversity. You remember the side that brutally clawed back from losing to win more than you remember the side that coasted to a championship. This is why I'll always remember that gritty 2006-2007 Capello side as one of the great sports moments in my life, and it's also why 2007-2008 will fade in my memory. Sure, 2008 was great. But are you really telling me that you liked it more than 2007?
Step 3: Fine. You like to not have to sweat it out. You like watching your team slowly destroy another side, day in, day out. You believe there's only one correct way to play football, and every one else should just accept that. You think your team is the bastion of all that is holy and moral in soccer. Congratulations, you're an FC Barcelona fan.
In all seriousness, there are some things to really be proud about this season. Madrid has been fantastic for long spurts, and has grown into that world super power role that we always knew they should be. Teams are scared of playing Madrid, afraid of coming to the Bernabéu. They're two games away from a Champions League final. They're leading the Liga. This is not some sort of catastrophy, no matter how the faux-journalist sansationalist lie-factories Marca and AS portray it.
I know it's going to be hard, but try to bring some perspective to things. This season has been amazing. And we're in for a potentially even more amazing April and May. Get excited--and nervous! It's going to be a helluva finish. And when it's all said and done, we can all come here and celebrate--or mourn--together.