Real Madrid will meet Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League with the winner to progress through to the final of Europe's most prestigious tournament.
All that stands between them and that final is Bayern Munich, who Real will meet twice in the next week or so to decide who will progress through to the final two.
Whilst the German side will certainly put up a fight, Real Madrid will progress through to the final where they will achieve Champions League glory, and the man to do that is Kaka.
The midfielder is brimming with confidence about his team's chances at winning Europe's top trophy—here's 10 reasons why Kaka can lead Madrid to victory in the Champions League in 2012.
Stopping a world-class player is one thing but stopping an in-form world-class player is another thing entirely, and Kaka's recent form has been outstanding for Madrid.
Whilst not netting the sheer number of goals that players like Cristiano Ronaldo record, Kaka's recent goal scoring and assist play are certainly a key reason why Madrid is pushing for the Champions League title.
The midfielder has recorded assists in five of his last seven Champions League matches as well as three assists and a goal in his last four matches across all competitions. In fact, since late January, Kaka has found the back of the net four times and assisted on another eight occasions—highlighting again his brilliant form of late.
His recent form, if it continues, is definitely able to carry Real Madrid to Champions League glory.
In addition to his goal-scoring and assist play, Kaka's all-round attacking play has been superb—particularly in the Champions League—and together with all the other world-class attackers in Real Madrid, surely makes them genuine Champions League contenders.
Throughout the tournament, Kaka averages the third highest match rating in the side; brought about in particular with his pass success percentage which sits well above 85 percent. He also ranks top five in key passes, effective crosses and dribbling for the tournament.
And when you put those numbers in light with Mesut Ozil's midfield play as well as the offensive potency that the likes of Karim Benzema and Ronaldo display, Kaka's attacking abilities may very well carry Madrid all the way to European glory.
One of the most clear examples why Kaka and Real Madrid are genuine Champions League contenders is through their regular season success, which sees them sit atop the La Liga table with only a few matches remaining.
With only two losses to their name in the Spanish league all season, Real have shown that they are the superior side in the nation—even with a 3-1 loss to Barcelona earlier in the year.
They have notched up 100 goals already in the domestic competition and have only conceded 27 goals at a rate less than one goal per match.
Barcelona FC, for all their dominance and talk as favorites, sit behind them in second. They did beat Real earlier in the year, but at the end of the day, Madrid are the ones in first and they are the ones who the title will fall to if Barca cannot overtake them.
Real Madrid has the domestic success to prove that they are genuine contenders for the UEFA title—largely in part to the brilliance of their all-conquering attack.
The end of the season can be chaotic for sides still alive in several competitions and having a friendly schedule to finish the year on can be of great assistance.
Real Madrid—even with their April 21 encounter with Barcelona—only have to play one other side in the top half of their domestic tournament in an away match to Atletico Madrid overnight.
In comparison, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all have schedules with several high-stakes matches to come—more chances to slip up and more chances to be not as prepared for their shot at European glory as Real Madrid are.
The schedule of a side like Barca sees them play teams running third, fifth and ninth respectively before the final of the Champions League on May 19—and that's without considering two matches against Chelsea.
Yes, there is adequate rest between matches, but it must be highlighted that Madrid definitely does have an easier run home than all three other sides left in the Champions League—particularly their semi-final opponents in Bayern Munich and their potential final opposition in Barcelona.
To list Kaka's achievements on football's biggest stage is another article entirely, but what is clear through it all is that the Brazilian saves his best for when the world is watching.
You can view the full list here, but we're talking trophies such as the Champions League (2007), UEFA Super Cup (2003, 2007), Copa Del Rey (2011) and FIFA Club World Cup (2007).
Throw in to that mix awards that Kaka has won such as Champions League Best Midfielder (2005), Champions League Best Forward (2007), Champions League Top Scorer (2007), UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (2007), FIFA World Player of the Year (2007) and World Soccer Player of the Year (2007) and his ability to thrive at the top level becomes evident.
His experience in big matches and his proven success in them will go a long way to making sure that Real Madrid are named Europe's greatest team.
One of the greatest abilities that a player can have on a team is the ability to not only make the team look good, but to make individual players within that team look excellent also.
Kaka's strength in organising the midfield has been getting the other midfielders to grow and improve to the point that he now leads one of the most disciplined and strongest units across Europe.
His ability to make players like Ozil, Xabi Alonso and
Kaka may not be the strongest midfielder in the world defensively speaking, but the help and assistance that he receives from Real Madrid is certainly a key reason behind their success already and their chances at future success.
Nuri Sahin, Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso have been solid in their defense all season—leading the Real Madrid side in interceptions, tackles and successful passes per match. They may not play the role in hitting the key passes or assists that Kaka does, but their defensive work has been outstanding all year—reflected in the 0.87 goals per game that Real currently allows in their domestic league.
With the defensive help existent in Real Madrid, players like Kaka can throw themselves forward with greater ease and security, and therefore with greater efficiency. In turn, this could result in Real Madrid not just being strong attackers, but winners of Europe's top title.
It's no surprise that Barcelona are the favorites to take out the Champions League final this year—they have been simply unstoppable all season long across all leagues and tournaments.
To beat them, Real Madrid have the best possible chance because they only need to do it once in the final and not twice in a semifinal leg. Add in to that the fact playing them as late as possible gives Real the greatest possible chance of someone knocking out the Spanish giants before they even reach the final.
It might be a tad cheeky, but it's completely true. Real Madrid have the best chance of beating Barcelona in the Champions League final because they only have to do it once.
It hasn't been the prettiest of sites for Real Madrid when they have played Barcelona this year.
December 10 : Real Madrid 1, Barcelona 3.
January 19: Real Madrid 1, Barcelona 2.
January 25: Real Madrid 2, Barcelona 2 (Real eliminated on goal difference).
If Barca topple them again in their match on April 19, expect revenge to be the key word around camp heading in to their Champions League matches.
Kaka and the rest of the Real Madrid unit will no doubt bring their best revenge game whoever they come up against—especially if it turns out to be Barcelona.
It might not be the most glorified reason, but revenge can drive a team like nothing else can, and so must be considered a reason why Real Madrid could achieve Champions League glory in 2012.
Yet perhaps the most significant reason why Kaka can lead Real Madrid to victory in the UEFA Champions League is simply because he believes he can.
Confident in his ability and skill, Kaka's definitely peaking at the right time in the tournament, commenting on his recent form:
As time passes, I feel more and more confident in my game and when it comes to striking the ball, the most important thing is that I am not carrying any injuries and I am involved in the moves out on the pitch. That's what makes me happy.
I would say I am making strides at the most important part of the season.
And if there were ever a time to be confident in your ability to lead your team to victory, the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League is a pretty good time for it to occur.
Real Madrid are definitely a genuine contender for the UEFA Champions League title and the honor of being named the greatest club in all of Europe.
And Kaka is the man that can make that happen.