So really, where to start? The most important, and most disappointing thing to take from the last week is that Madrid's lead at the top of La Liga has been cut from ten points to six over second-placed Barca. It's a position that Madrid would have snapped at if they were offered it at the start of the season, but it's suddenly seen as a crisis because of the manner in which the points have been dropped.
Let's be straight - Madrid have been well below par in both games against Malaga and Villarreal. They had chances to win both, and perhaps should have done, but they were still not at their best. Whether this is down to believing the league is already won, or whether a sense of panic is creeping in as the title draws nearer, I'm not too sure. A bit of both? Probably. They'd looked to have done enough against Malaga on Sunday but a superb free-kick from Santi Cazorla late on saw the visitors steal a point. Disappointing, but it wasn't anything to be too concerned about.
Fast-forward to El Madrigal in midweek and it was a different story. The finger is being pointed at the officials, both by Madrid as a club and a large section of the support. Again, however, the truth is that Los Blancos weren't great and the Yellow Submarines more than matched their visitors for long parts. Sloppy defending, from Sergio Ramos amongst others, indecisive goalkeeping - very unlike Iker Casillas - and a bit of a lack of creativity that was worrying given the attacking quality out on the pitch. Looking at the sending-offs - Ramos was disappointed but his second yellow card was a tackle that was out of control. He's been superb this season alongside Pepe at the back but that challenge cast minds back to the 'old' Ramos, who was prone to errors. It wasn't one of his best games. Mesut Ozil's red? Only he and the referee will know what was said, but his sarcastic applause didn't help the German international. Rui Faria was sent off earlier for the fourth time this season, something that tells its own tale, and Mourinho followed swiftly after Senna's leveller.
However much the officials played played their part, Madrid lost their heads in only the way Madrid can do. Earlier in the week Pep Guardiola said it was "impossible" for his side to win the league. A bit of realism from Catalonia or a well-worked plan? If the latter, it's certainly worked.
The events that unfolded at El Madrigal also punished the media, too. Madrid players and officials refused to comment post-match, and Friday's press conference ahead of the Real Sociedad game was cancelled. You can just imagine the smiles in Catalonia now, can't you?
Guardiola also said that he can't foresee Madrid losing more matches this season. Well, they haven't lost any games recently, but the back-to-back draws have got Barca right back in it. As I've said before, draws are the new defeats as far as the top-two are concerned this season, such is the gap between them and the rest of La Liga. For my money, Madrid will still run-out champions this season, but it's made next month's Clasico a huge one, and a tricky one (when is it not?). Do Madrid go there looking to maintain the gap or play for a draw, or do they go to win it? It still has to be the latter, for me.
So what positives, if any, can we take from the last week? Player-wise, the performance of Ozil, sending-off aside of course. He'll now serve a suspension, but the German was the best of a pretty average bunch in the last two matches. Great against Malaga, influential against Villarreal. His lay-off for Ronaldo's goal against the latter was superb, and he's now leading the assists chart in La Liga with 14, one ahead of Angel di Maria.
What for the team? If anything, Madrid will use this to spur them on. Mourinho likes to make mountains out of molehills, and he likes to make it an 'us against the world' type mentality in his camp. Feel sorry for Sociedad on Saturday night - Madrid will be out to take their frustration out on the Basques. We can hope that the set-backs also give Los Blancos a kick up the backside as the season enters its 'business end'. Maybe strolling through the end of the season to the title wouldn't have been the best preparation for big games to come in the Champions League, and the Clasico at the Camp Nou.
It was all a bit bizarre, then, that Madrid announced plans to build their own island on Thursday. Such a Madrid thing to do, no? The Real Madrid Resort Island - football, Real Madrid and tourism all in one, all based in the United Arab Emirates. Looking at the plans for it, I doubt many of us will be able to afford to go there.
Mourinho, Ramos, Karim Benzema and Casillas were all in attendance as Florentino Perez, the president, revealed the plans to the media. Black-out for the on-the-pitch matters, no such thing when they need the media's help to promote the new island. I bet Mou and his players would rather have been anywhere else.
The pressure is building on Los Blancos and they can respond on home soil on Saturday night. Victory over Sociedad, with all respect to them, is the minimum requirement. A convincing, high-scoring victory, will go a long way to showing Madrid won't be wilting under the pressure this season. When they walk out on the pitch, Barca could well be just three points behind thanks to kicking-off before the leaders.
Let's have the required response on Saturday, shall we Madrid? And put the last week firmly behind us. We don't want it to define our season.
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