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Real Madrid: 1,000 days as kings of Europe

In Italy, they are still reeling from the shock of Juventus’ defeat at the Metropolitano. The runaway Serie A leaders gave a drab impression in their visit to Madrid and returned home with a poor result – a 2-0 result which, if the statistics are anything to go by, usually see the first leg winners go through (on average 83% of the times). In the league, Juve have won all of their games bar three, which they have drawn. They came to the Metropolitano with an air of invincibility and with the formidable presence of Cristiano. But in the end they did nothing, went home with a two-goal disadvantage and with VAR to thank for letting them off a penalty and a disallowed Morata goal.

Spanish teams still alive in Europe

It speaks volumes about the rude health our football is in. This week’s episode with Juve reminded me of last year’s tie between PSG and Real Madrid. In a similar way, PSG were feared – they were viewed as a powerful, superior force but that didn’t turn to be the case at all. The same’s happened now with Juve; PSG had (and has) a great team but they play in a less challenging league. Both are so far ahead of the rest in their respective leagues that as soon as they are really put to the test or face difficulties, they fall apart. Of course I don’t want to jump the gun and claim the tie is done and dusted but Juve have an unenviable task ahead of them in the return leg against Atleti. Elsewhere, Madrid are in a strong position against Ajax, as are Barça in their tie against Olympique Lyonnais. Likewise, Valencia, Villarreal and Sevilla all remain alive and kicking in the Europa League.

Champions League Round of 16 First Leg - Ajax Amsterdam v Real Madrid

Competitive and diverse league

Up until now, we’ve only lost Betis along the way in Europe, and I didn’t particulraly think they were any worse than Rennes over both legs, but sometimes fate can work against you in football. Some saw it as Setién getting his just reward for his arrogant reaction to losing to Leganés. That’s a shame because Betis play wonderful football and are one of the many teams which form part of and contribute to the great diversity of our domestic league, which runs the gamut of ideas and philosophies from Simeone to Bordalás. That’s the environment which our teams have grown used to working in, and partly explains their constant successes in Europe which, in Real Madrid’s case, has them celebrating today 1,000 days as defending European champions - sorry to have to remind you Guardiola...