Real Madrid’s journey in the Champions League so far this season
With one game of the group phase of the 2022 – 2023 Champions League season to be played, Real Madrid are already assured of qualification from Group F, although they need to beat Celtic at home to be assured of progressing as group winners at the expense of RB Leipzig.
That is despite losing the Bundesliga side in Germany earlier this week.
That should not be difficult, at least on paper.
The Scottish team know that their European adventure is over for another year and, even if they win in the Spanish capital they have no chance of taking the Europa League place that goes with finishing third in the group.
The Spanish champions can also reflect on the fact that, this season, they will be thee only La Liga side to feature in the knock-out stages of the competition. Neighbours Atlético, Barcelona and Sevilla are all out of contention, and, instead, will enter the Europa League in the New Year.
Not that Real Madrid have necessarily produced their best form in the Champions League so far.
Critics may argue that the draw was relatively kind to them, and they could have been handed a harder group with matches against Celtic, Leipzig, and a Shakhtar Donetsk side forced to play its home games in Poland because of the war in Ukraine.
They began well enough with a comprehensive win over Celtic at Parkhead. The Scottish side had chances in the first half, but the Spanish side came out after the break a different team and scored three goals, underlying the difference in class between the two teams.
Arguably, though, that remains their best performance of the campaign so far. Although they then bear RB Leipzig at home. It was an underwhelming performance, and few chances were created. Had Leipzig been more clinical in front of goal the results might have been different.
Nor were the results much better against the Ukrainian side by the odd goal in three, and settling for a point in Poland.
And the reverse fixture against Leipzig proved to be an altogether tougher proposition. The home side out-ran and outfought Real for much of the game. Took an early two goal lead, and, although the score suggests that it was a close game, that was distorted by a very late penalty by Rodrygo. In reality. Real were second best on the night.
In summary, Real’s qualifying campaign has been mediocre to date.
That should not necessarily concern their fans, The first order of business was to qualify from their group, and preferably top it, therefore, assuring themselves of an easier draw in the round of 16 and they have done that.
And, as the most successful team in the history of the competition. Real know better than anybody that the Champions League is not one in the autumn, but in the spring months when the season reaches the business end.
Like an experienced poker player they do not want to show their hand too early. One thing is certain – Real Madrid will still be one of the teams to beat in the Champions League this season.