Real Madrid: Highs and Lows of Their 2012-13 Season

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2013

Real Madrid: Highs and Lows of Their 2012-13 Season

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    It doesn't sound that bad: La Liga runners-up, Copa del Rey finalists and Champions League semifinalists.

    Then you mention the name Real Madrid and a cold silence sweeps through the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Los Blancos, who conclude their season against Osasuna on Saturday, will end the campaign sans trophies—hold one, which will feature in these slides.

    They still managed to produce some great moments on the way to reaching the latter stages of tournaments, but it is what happened once they go to those stages which will override the feelings of this season.

    Here are some of the high moments, and some of their low ones too...

High: Spanish Supercopa Success (August)

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    After going 1-0 up, Real Madrid found themselves 3-1 down at Camp Nou in the first leg of this season's Spanish Supercopa.

    Few could have complained if they'd been 4-1 or 5-1 behind.

    But an error from Victor Valdes and a goal from Angel Di Maria in 85th minute gave Madrid something tangible to take back to the Bernabeu.

    It was a different story in the Spanish capital the following week, where Los Blancos flew out of the starting blocks.

    Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo had them 2-0 up inside 20 minutes, leaving their Catalan visitors needing to score twice to win the match.

    Lionel Messi did add one, on the stroke of halftime, but no more goals were forthcoming, and Jose Mourinho's men clinched the season's first piece of silverware on away goals.

    It was hoped to be a sign of what was to come.

Low: Defeat to Getafe (August)

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    The Real Madrid players could still taste the champagne from their Supercopa win over Barcelona when they hopped across the city for their first away game of the season against Getafe.

    Valencia had ground out a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in Week 1, so this was the perfect opportunity for Madrid to send out a message.

    They weren't quite sending a message out, but they were 1-0 up by halftime thanks to Gonzalo Higuain—surely Getafe wouldn't be bothered about coming back from that?

    Except they did fancy it.

    First, fullback Juan Valera squared things up, then the impressive Abdel Barrada—linked with Madrid the previous summer, via Yahoo!—fired Luis Garcia's side ahead.

    Getafe held out to clinch a 2-1 win.

    And, as it turned out, this game was to be more representative of what was to come.

Low: Andalusia (September-February)

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    A strange phenomenon got hold of Real Madrid this season, and it took hold of them whenever they made the trip south of the capital to Andalusia.

    Of Spain's 17 autonomous communities, Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in terms of area; it's also home to four La Liga sides.

    Four La Liga sides who all beat Los Blancos on their home patch this season.

    First up was Sevilla in September, Piotr Trochowski's second-minute goal proving the only one of the match.

    Then, when Real Betis, once again by a solitary goal, beat Madrid, the curse seemed to be based in Seville.

    By December it had expanded though. Malaga's 3-2 win against Mourinho's side all but won Barcelona the title before Christmas.

    The real test would be Granada though, who, according to the league table, are by far the worst of the four teams in the region. If they could beat Madrid, then it really was a curse.

    Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the match... in his own net. That confirmed it, defeat to Granada completed a full house of defeats in Andalusia. Twelve points had evaporated in four games in one region; trips south will be interesting next season.

High: First Half vs. Valencia (January)

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    In terms of the league campaign, it proved pretty pointless other than helping Real Madrid track down and overtake Atletico Madrid.

    In terms of a pure footballing spectacle, it was beautiful.

    Madrid's most impressive 45 minutes of the season, arguably, came at Mestalla in January, when five first-half goals wiped the floor with Valencia.

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria stole the show, both scoring twice and setting one goal up each.

    Gonzalo Higuain added the other goal as Madrid looked to increase the season's tempo while La Decima remained in sight.

High: Barcelona, Copa Del Rey (February)

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    After a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, Barcelona had the advantage heading into the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal at Camp Nou.

    Real Madrid were not compliant with that theory though.

    Their counter-attacking football, synonymous with them in Mourinho's era, was too much for Barca to handle, as they powered into the final.

    Once Gerard Pique had given away a first-half penalty, duly dispatched by Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona were always going to be liable to Madrid's tactics.

    And so it proved as the game progressed. Ronaldo added his, and Madrid's, second goal before Raphael Varane put the outcome beyond doubt with a third.

    Jordi Alba scored a late consolation, but few could argue with the result when the referee blew for full time.

High: Manchester United, Away (March)

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    In similar style to the previous week's Copa del Rey match against Barcelona, Real Madrid traveled to Old Trafford having been held to a 1-1 draw at home.

    What followed wasn't quite as exhilarating as the performance Los Blancos put on at Camp Nou, but they squeaked through, and any win which maintains thoughts of La Decima can be classified as a high point.

    A Sergio Ramos own goal had put Manchester United ahead, but the match changed several minutes later when Nani saw red for a high foot on Alvaro Arbeloa.

    Luka Modric was introduced—Xabi Alonso had been shackled by Danny Welbeck in the first half—and Madrid made their extra man count.

    It was the Croatian who expertly equalized before Cristiano Ronaldo, on his return to his former employers, scored the winner.

Low: Borussia Dortmund, Away (April)

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    If it's generally considered unacceptable for Real Madrid to lose in Europe, then it's certainly not acceptable to lose in the manner which they did in Dortmund.

    Having seen Barcelona humbled by Bayern Munich the previous night, Real Madrid were stunned by Robert Lewandowski in the Champions League semifinal first leg.

    Dortmund's No. 9's opener was cancelled out by Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half, but there was no cancelling out what followed in the second half.

    The Polish striker added three more as Jurgen Klopp's men became Europe's darlings with a 4-1 win.

    Madrid huffed and puffed in the return leg, and did add two goals late on, but it was all too late. The damage had been done in Germany.

Low: Copa Del Rey Final (May)

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    What's worse than losing a cup final?

    Losing a cup final to your city rivals, who haven't beat you for 14 years, when the cup, which was once your third priority, has become your only priority.

    That's the circumstances in which Real Madrid lost this season's Copa del Rey final.

    Oh, and it was played in their back garden too.

    Cristiano Ronaldo had headed Los Blancos into the lead in the first half, and it looked like it would be a fairly standard night's work for Mourinho's side.

    For once, Atletico had other ideas though. Radamel Falcao's excellent work set up Diego Costa for an equalizer before the woodwork thrice thwarted Real and sent them into extra time.

    Miranda headed Los Rojiblancos ahead, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho were sent off and it was Neptune who was left to celebrate through the night, not Cibeles.