For a number of years, it has been Barcelona that have dominated Spanish football. The Blaugrana have arguably enjoyed their best decade ever as they have achieved success unparalleled in their history, especially on the European stage.
Indeed, Barcelona have possibly been the greatest team of the decade and definitely one of the best club teams in history.
This season, Barcelona are still an extremely formidable outfit. They certainly will be contenders for major honours come the end of the season, both in the Champions League and La Liga.
However, this season Real Madrid—under the guidance of the masterful Jose Mourinho—are on the rise again.
In their last four La Liga games, Los Blancos have bagged an incredible 19 goals, collecting maximum points along the way. It has not just been the results that have impressed, but their performances have also raised eyebrows.
Mourinho’s Real are starting to get that champion look about them that is inevitable for a team whenever it has the self-proclaimed "Special One" leading them.
The wily Portuguese tactician has a habit of transforming teams into champions. He did it at Porto back in 2004, where he led them to an unprecedented Champions League triumph in addition to the domestic league and cup titles.
Then, at Chelsea, it was much of the same. He led the Blues to back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, helping transform the London-based club into one of the powers of modern day English football.
Following his rather turbulent exit from Stamford Bridge, Mourinho was snapped up by Inter. In the intense and difficult environment of Italian football, Mourinho built an Inter side that not only continued its winning ways in Italy, but also broke its European curse by becoming Champions last May.
As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is true following Jose Mourinho’s move to the Spanish capital. Just months after arriving in Madrid, already Los Blancos look like potential champions. Their position at the top of La Liga is testament to this, along with their domination over Milan in the two recent ties played against the Italians.
It may be a different club, in a different country, with a different style of football. But this seems to be of little consequence for Mourinho. His record across various countries is without equal and quite rightly he can claim to be the "Special One."
Mourinho’s Los Blancos have steadily been improving, and in recent weeks the team have started to form an identity. But, rather frighteningly for Real’s rivals in Spain and Europe, is the real possibility that there is still room for improvement.
Under the tutelage of the Portuguese tactician, Cristiano Ronaldo is rediscovering the kind of form he exhibited during his record-breaking season for Manchester United where he scored a disbelieving 42 in all competitions.
The new No. 7 at the Bernabeu will be crucial to Real’s bid for success this season. If the former United star can continue in the same vein as he has done in recent weeks then it will push Real that much closer to success.
But it is not just the form of Cristiano Ronaldo that Real’s success will hinge upon. All over the park Real are blessed with world class stars who are either in the peak of their powers or are on the way there.
Cristiano Ronaldo definitely belongs to the former group. As does the likes of Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Ricardo Calvarho, Iker Casillas and Pepe.
Then there is Angel Di Maria, Pedro Leon, Gonzalo Higuain, Mezut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Karim Benzema and Sergio Canales. This group of players possess frightening potential.
Under the guidance of Mourinho, many of these players may go a long way to fulfilling such potential. Already, Mezut Ozil and Sami Khedira have improved greatly this season and have become crucial elements to Mourinho’s side.
Together, it is a group of players that possess great quality and great potential. As a team they are young, but they are slowly growing into a strong outfit.
Of course, it is still early days. Whether Mourinho is able to guide his stars to silverware this season remains to be seen. If glory evades Real this season, then it may be next season that they succeed. Under Mourinho, it is surely just a question of time and hopefully he is given enough.
What is sure this season is that Real Madrid are serious contenders again, not only in Spain, but more importantly in Europe, where the club have failed to make it past the Round of 16 since winning the title in 2002.
But this season may be different, and come Wembley next year, it will not be surprising if it is Mourinho and his Real side that are crowned Kings of Europe in the land the Portuguese so desires to return to one day.