Real Madrid Schedule 2014-15: List of Fixtures and Early Analysis

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Real Madrid Schedule 2014-15: List of Fixtures and Early Analysis
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Now that Real Madrid's obsession with capturing their coveted 10th European crown is over, the club and its supporters can focus on a new goal: dethroning crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

The 2014-15 fixtures were released on Thursday, outlining the path Real must take if they are to establish themselves as Kings of Spain once more:

Real Madrid 2014/15 Fixture List
Matchday Date Opponent
1 August 24 Cordoba
2 August 31 Real Sociedad
3 September 14 Atletico Madrid
4 September 21 Deportivo de la Coruna
5 September 24 Elche
6 September 28 Villareal
7 October 5 Athletic Bilbao
8 October 19 Levante
9 October 26 Barcelona
10 November 2 Granada
11 November 9 Rayo Vallecano
12 November 23 Eibar
13 November 30 Malaga
14 December 12 Celta Viga
15 December 14 Almeria
16 December 21 Sevilla
17 January 4 Valencia
18 January 11 Espanyol
19 January 18 Getafe
20 January 25 Cordoba
21 February 1 Real Sociedad
22 February 8 Atletico Madrid
23 February 15 Deportivo de la Coruna
24 February 22 Elche
25 March 1 Villareal
26 March 8 Athletic Bilbao
27 March 15 Levante
28 March 22 Barcelona
29 April 5 Granada
30 April 8 Rayo Vallecano
31 April 12 Eibar
32 April 19 Malaga
33 April 26 Celta Viga
34 April 29 Almeria
35 May 3 Sevilla
36 May 10 Valencia
37 May 17 Espanyol
38 May 24 Getafe

via lfp.es

Three minutes tipped the balance of Madrid's 2013-14 campaign from complete disaster to historic triumph. Had Sergio Ramos not scored the equaliser in the 93rd minute of the Champions League final, Los Blancos would have lost out on the league and been deprived of "La Decima" by one of their most hated rivals.

Real Madrid's Copa del Rey win would have rung hollow, and manager Carlo Ancelotti almost certainly would have been out of a job.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Instead, Gareth Bale paid back every euro of his €100 million transfer fee by scoring the winner in the Champions League final and ending what had been years of misery in the Santiago Bernabeu.

He called it "a dream come true, literally," per UEFA.com's Alfredo Rodriguez.

"When you're a little boy you dream of lifting the Champions League, and to lift the 10th one for Real Madrid is special," he added. "It's one that will go down in history."

 

Fresh Faces Bring Hunger to Madrid

Despite the club's Champions League and Copa del Rey successes, its performance in the league was dotted by inconsistent patches, such as the three-match stretch at the end of the season that featured draws against Valencia and Real Valladolid and defeat at the hands of Celta Vigo.

Next season should be different. Last year's summer signings are fully bedded into both the squad and La Liga, while younger stars like Daniel Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Jese are ready to take on larger roles. Jese, in particular, could be in for big things after essentially supplanting Alvaro Morata in the lineup:

Additionally, Madrid have added two of the World Cup's top performers in Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, bringing even more invention to their already frightening attack.

 

Key Games

Obviously, the first two matches that stick out the most are those initial clashes against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Those fixtures allow Madrid to lay a marker down in the first half of the season. If they take all six points, they'll have likely inserted themselves as title favourites, while dropping points to one or both might create unnecessary panic.

Last year, Los Blancos dropped both matches in the first half of the campaign. The 1-0 home defeat to Atletico was particularly galling.

Next year will likely be a return to normality in terms of the duopoly. Madrid and Barca will get back to conquering all in their path and collecting 90-100 points.

The margin for error will be extremely small, so dropping points early in the season would put Real in a tough position. Two years ago, they lost 2-1 to Getafe on Matchday 2 and then 1-0 to Sevilla on Matchday 4. And that was after a 1-1 draw with Valencia in the opener.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Madrid went unbeaten from Matchday 23 on, with 13 wins and three draws. However, they still finished 15 points back of Barcelona.

Compare that to 2011-12, when Real Madrid registered 100 points and won La Liga by nine points. Through the first 15 matches of the season, they dropped eight out of a possible 45 points, and then after that, six out of the next 69.

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Some other intriguing matches come later in the season against the mid-to-lower-table sides. In the past, those kinds of fixtures have cost Madrid the title.

In 2010-11, they lost to Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza. Barcelona won the title by four points.

This past season, Madrid's draws against Valencia and Valladolid and the subsequent loss to Celta Vigo essentially cost them the title.

Real Madrid don't often fail to win, but when they do, it's always extremely costly.

Ancelotti should be able to ride the wave of momentum created by last year's Champions League triumph. As long as Los Blancos don't have too many early hiccups, they'll be in pole position in La Liga.

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