Apparently some fans think so, and there’s clearly talk around the Bernabeu that if any Madrid team is poised to match the historic success of Pep Guardiola’s 2009 Barca squad, it’s this year’s team.
Back in 2009, Guardiola’s Barca squad won the continental treble (La Liga, Copa del Rey, and Champions League), to which they added the Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup.
But can this year’s Madrid squad really rival that historic Barca team? While they can’t win the full sextet in 2017 (Barca already won the 2017 Copa del Rey), they could still pull off the sextet in the space of 365 days, and they just might have the team to do it.
After Zinedine Zidane’s squad thoroughly outworked Manchester United 2-1 to win Tuesday’s UEFA Supercup in Skopje, Vicente del Bosque noted he thought the comparison to that historic Barca squad was apt.
Noting that both that historic Guardiola squad and Zidane’s current crew are heavily dependent upon control of the midfield, del Bosque said, “It is similar now…Real Madrid have very good midfielders, people who work hard and have a lot of quality. Around them they have a very good team, in defence and attack. The facts show they are the best team in Europe. Madrid are playing very good football, and winning trophies. Since Zizou took over they are on an impressive path.”
And while Madrid’s BBC front line of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo had once been the source of so many breathless headlines (and to be fair, they still certainly are), it’s now the midfield getting their due in Madrid.
In fact, Marca’s front cover Thursday (seen below) was purely homage to that midfield, which it referred to as Los Cuatro Fantasticos, or “the fantastic four.” And truly, that midfield of Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Isco is among the best (if not the best) in the world.
Of course, for Madrid fans, a point of some concern was Isco, as the 25-year-old playmaker is one of the brightest stars of that shiny midfield, especially as he had been linked in trade rumors to United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and even at various points, Barca. Most recent reports, however, have noted that a renewed contract (with the current one over at the end of the season) is likely to be offered soon.
Given how essential he and the others are to Los Blancos, that can only help their chances at a sextet.
About that sextet, though: is it really possible? Let’s look at each leg of the challenge individually to see how likely it may or may not be for Zidane’s men this year.
Copa del Rey: While the 2017 Copa del Rey was contested May 27th and won by Barca, Madrid could still win the 2018 edition, which could help them finish off a string of consecutive titles equal to a sextet.
Champions League: It’s rather astonishing how easily Zidane’s squad made off with this title back in June.
UEFA Super Cup: As noted earlier, Madrid just dispatched Manchester United to wrap up this title, even if they may not have been favored.
FIFA Club World Cup: While Los Blancos have already been slotted into the semi-finals by virtue of their Champions League victory, the rest of the semi-finalists won’t be formalized until December.
The verdict? While Zidane’s winning machine cannot win a 2017 sextet, on account of Barca’s Copa del Rey victory in May, a string of titles running into the Copa del Rey next spring is certainly possible; all they would need to do successfully are the following:
- Beat Barca in the Spanish Super Cup
- Win the FIFA Club World Cup in December
- Defend their title this season in La Liga
- Win the Copa del Rey next spring
Doing so would then give them all six titles in the space of 365 days.
And even if we still want to just consider 2017, five titles (including the Spanish Super Cup and Club World Cup) seems entirely within reach…and a 2018 sextet certainly seems like a distinct possibility.