This season, which officially started back in August of last year for Real Madrid, will come down to one 90-minute game in the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Saturday. After ten months of competition, Madrid are left with only one of the more universally recognized trophies to aim for, although for the Madrid fans, it’s the most important one at this point in time — it’s La Decima.
La Decima means the tenth, as in the tenth time that Real Madrid will have won the European Cup, now known as the Champions League. Madrid are the record winners of the trophy with nine wins, but that is not enough for the club or their fans. They want to end the 12-year wait since their last European triumph, and most notably, they want La Decima.
It all equates to big pressure on everybody involved after getting this close, and none more so than manager Carlo Ancelotti. This game could swing the position of Ancelotti one way or the other. If Madrid win, he’ll be a hero; if they lose, though, then the Italian will only have the Copa del Rey to show for his efforts this season.
Considering Madrid managers have been sacked for winning the La Liga title or even the Champions League in the past, it would not necessarily be a great position to be in. It’s fine margins for Ancelotti, as it always is as Real Madrid boss. There’s no measure of sense in the board’s actions or realism in their targets; you’re almost always on trial no matter what.
In Lisbon, Real will be taking on their cross-city rivals, Atletico Madrid. Atletico won the Spanish league title last weekend for the first time since 1996, and this game, although extremely important and a huge occasion, is essentially a monster bonus for them — they can only win regardless.
All the pressure is on Real; they are striving for La Decima, they are the favorites to win and they are the ones who can finish up with nothing if they do not win. Atletico already have La Liga in the bag. By contrast to Ancelotti, Atletico manager Diego Simeone is sitting very pretty indeed, regardless of the result in Lisbon.
It will be a tense occasion and one that Real is desperate to win — one that Ancelotti desperately needs to win. If he doesn’t, he potentially could lose more than just a Champions League final. It would be unfair after only one year, but that is exactly how Real Madrid operate. You know that when arrive and certainly know it when you leave.