So many hopes were pinned on the current team winning trophies and head coach Manuel Pellegrini turning them into a squad capable of playing a fast, offensive, and attractive game with an emphasis on teamwork instead of individualistic luster.
However, Real Madrid have been nothing but big disappointments. First, Copa del Rey became a lost cause against Alcorcón, then they lost in the Champions League against Lyon, and now after a defeat in the second and last El Clásico of the season against Barcelona, there is little, if any, hope that Real Madrid can still win the La Liga title.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has already, though guardedly, proclaimed El Clásico victory as a "major blow to Real Madrid's morale."
Last season El Madrid, under Juande Ramos, collected 52 points from the available 54 to stay in the title race before the second El Clásico at Santiago Bernabéu. They could have used the opportunity to close the gap on Barcelona to a tantalizingly one point. But after losing El Clásico 2-6 at home, they seemed to lose all motivation, momentum, and maybe professionalism in going the distance.
Without putting up a fight, they lost all subsequent games and handed the La Liga title cheaply to Barcelona, who quite interestingly also failed to win all of their last four games with two draws and two losses.
The current season began with a massive infusion of talent at the cost of hundreds of millions of Euros. The expectations were sky-high in Spain and around the world amongst Madridistas.
Still, it was always going to be a misplaced conception to expect this team to become a cohesive unit, perform, dominate, and comprehensively and convincingly win from day one.
The spectacular project choked up against big teams like Barcelona and Sevilla in La Liga and against AC Milan and Lyon in the Champions League.
In the last-gasp race for silverware this season, Madrid will have to show drive, mental toughness, teamwork, and a winning mentality instead of giving up like last season in the remaining seven La Liga games.
If they want to exonerate themselves as honest professionals in the eyes of their fans, that starts with Almeria tonight
The team not only has to catch up to Barcelona, an extremely difficult task in itself because of their massive 80 point haul in 31 games, but also has to bypass them to win La Liga.
Despite such an ominous assignment ahead, Cristiano Ronaldo (the face of the spectacular project) is optimistic saying that, "Barcelona was far superior, but we have to pick ourselves up because there are seven games left."
It would be unfair to pinpoint just the head coach or team alone for the situation Real Madrid are presently in.
For his part, El Ingeniero, Pellegrini, has still not been able to successfully instill a distinct soccer philosophy in the Real Madrid team. At the same time he has made mistakes in crucial games (especially in the midfield) like Lyon and Barcelona that saw them crash out of Champions League and now perhaps from La Liga title chase.
Lack of collaboration between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaín is also hurting Real Madrid upfront because Ronaldo wants to take all the attention (and penalties) while Higuaín seems to want to make himself prominent from his somewhat selfish offensive partner.
Kaká and Karim Benzema have failed to successfully integrate into the team and live up to their full potential and preseason hype.
Despite all the failures, to ensure continuity major upheavals need to be avoided and it would be another disaster if the powers that be at El Madrid choose to fire Pellegrini at the end of the season.
His firing would take the club back to square one and a new coach would have to start the process all over again. He would have to sell existing players and buy new ones to accommodate his coaching style.
For now it is reassuring that Jorge Valdano, club Director General and right-hand man of Florentino Pérez, has come out and said that “…the team has the obligation to take these seven matches as if they were seven finals…The coach has all of our support."
Well, maybe for now at the least. We hope.