There's a famous saying in the English Premier League when it gets to this, the 'business end' of the season. It comes courtesy of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and it's 'squeeky bum time'. Used to describe the pressure that comes with a title run-in, it's a phrase that's now rolled out whenever the season edges closer to its conclusion.
It's a phrase that became new to Manchester City when chasing bitter rivals United for the Premier League crown this season, and it's a phrase that could well be adapted to the title chase in La Liga this season, for both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
No matter how big the club, how close the contest at the top of the league - 'squeeky bum time' is for everyone. It was coined by one of the greatest football managers of all time in Ferguson, and at one of the biggest clubs in the world in Manchester United, after all. Nobody can get away from it.
It's a phrase that I didn't really think I'd need to use a few weeks ago. Los Blancos storming to the La Liga crown with a ten-point gap over Barca. The league's all tied up isn't it? Now? Just a point ahead of Pep's boys, with a tough game to come against Atleti in El Derbi on Wednesday night.
Squeeky bum time? You bet it is.
There's two ways the current situation can be viewed. Blowing a ten-point lead at the most crucial point of the season is one way. Being potentially four points above Barca (with a win over Atletico) with just six games to go - a position surely all Madridistas would have taken at the start of the season - is another.
The crazy thing is, Madrid haven't lost since their Bernabeu defeat against Barcelona at the start of December - three draws in their last five games have been the problem, against Malaga, Villarreal and most recently Valencia. Like I've mentioned in so many other posts throughout this season, draws are the new defeats for the top-two in La Liga, and it's the draws Los Blancos need to stamp out between now and the end of the season (although one at the Camp Nou shouldn't be all-too bad).
Madrid should have been looking at maximum points for me from those three recent draws. Against a Valencia side that's really struggling for form at the moment, a Villarreal side struggling against relegation and a Malaga side that, although doing well this season, were the visitors, and the underdogs, at the Bernabeu.
A need to worry? Slightly. Seeing a ten-point lead fritter away isn't great. Not only may it put doubts into the minds of some Madrid players, it'll also lift Barcelona. From seeing their title defence seemingly at an end only a few weeks ago, they're now back in the chase, even if Pep doesn't say so - mind games and all that. They've also got to welcome Los Blancos to Catalonia on Saturday, April 21 (my birthday!) and they'll fancy their chances in that one, potentially cutting the gap to just a point.
But these are all ifs and buts. Madrid haven't built up a lead at the top of the table and been there for a long part of the season through chance - they've been the better side. They've shown they can bounce back from set-backs before this season and they've shown they've the mental strength, as well as the ability, to win La Liga for the most part of the season.
They also have a potentially season-winning weapon back in the mix in Angel di Maria, one of my players of the season in white this term despite missing a large chunk through injury. While Ronaldo grabs the headlines, the Argentine more than matched him in the first half of the season with his goals, assists and general attacking spark. He's returning to full fitness, hopefully, at just the right time of the season, and he's just what Los Blancos need.
While the talk has been of the Clasico being crucial later this month, there's the small matter of El Derbi to contend with on Wednesday night at the Vicente Calderon. A match that, although not of the same prestige as the Clasico, is just as important in the title run-in. A win will keep Barca at arm's length, a defeat will throw things wide open. Barca's 4-0 win over Getafe certainly did nothing to help relieve the pressure...
But Atleti and 'win' in El Derbi just doesn't go together. I'm not saying that out of disrespect, it's just the way things have gone in the Spanish capital, for the last couple of decades at least. Madrid need to be wary this time, however. Atleti may have suffered a home defeat against Levante last time out but they may prove to be a different animal under Diego Simeone - his first El Derbi clash as manager of the red and white side of Madrid.
They've become a more determined, battling side who have become harder to beat that in recent seasons - and I realise this is coming on the back of that 2-0 Levante loss. Simeone will have his men fired up, no doubt about it, he'll have his men playing just how he'd be playing if he was out on that pitch - not giving his opponents an inch and pushing them all the way. They have Falcao, fitness permitting, a threat to any defence in world football at the moment.
Atleti have failed to win in their last 20 matches against Los Blancos, their longest run without a win against any top-flight side. It's a record that could well haunt Atletico, but it's also one that has to end at some point - they'll be wondering why they can't bring that to an end this time, and not only bag the bragging rights but inflict a big blow on Madrid's title chances.
On a side note, watch out for potential bookings for both Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo at the Calderon. Both, I believe, are just a booking away from a suspension - and Mourinho won't want either key player to be missing for the trip to the Camp Nou in a fortnight. 'Dodgy' bookings may well be the order of the day, especially in Los Blancos are in control late on in the game. We've seen it happen before, after all.
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