Real Madrid: The five biggest questions going into 2021

Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images) /

Can Real Madrid finally go far in the Champions League?

Real Madrid were in crisis heading into their final Champions League group stage match against Borussia Monchengladbach, because they were at threat of bouncing out of the competition before the knockout stages. I mean, could you imagine? Real Madrid in the Europa League? The Europa League!!!! Fans were already nervous about becoming the next Manchester United.

Of course, this is no Manchester United. Zinedine Zidane is not the easy-going cheerleader that Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Karim Benzema are world-class players with Champions League-winning experience, not overhyped prospects with no meaningful accomplishments. Sorry, that’s harsh on United, but you get the point. Real is a different league.

And they showed it with the way they dominated Gladbach. You almost felt bad for Marco Rose, because there was simply nothing he could do. How can you stop Real Madrid when Kroos and Modric are owning everyone in the middle of the park? You cannot. It’s not possible.

Real’s six-game winning streak coming out of Christmas, which includes additional wins over top La Liga sides Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, is a reminder of what this team is capable of. If Real can play as they have during this streak with a healthy Eden Hazard added, then how can they not be considered Champions League title contenders? Can you really say that PSG, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool are all unquestionably better? Because I’ve yet to see any of those three teams truly convince me either, even considering some of Real’s woeful performances.

Another Round of 16 exit is less likely against Atalanta, especially if Papu Gomez is sold, but the real question will be if Real can make it to, say, the semifinals, which is the usual minimum bar set in Madrid.