After their annihilation of Schalke in the last round, Real Madrid were drawn against more German opposition in Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Within touching distance of the final last year, Los Blancos were dumped out at the semi-final stage by a Dortmund side who won the hearts of fans all over Europe, meaning Madrid’s wait for their tenth European title would go on.
There was a hint of revenge in the air in the Spanish capital last night, but it turned out to be a comfortable evening for Carlo Ancelotti's side.
As in the previous round, Madrid were dominant from start to finish. The deadlock was broken early on as Gareth Bale poked home before Isco added a neat second. If the tie was not already sealed Cristiano Ronaldo added a third in the second-half to all but confirm Madrid’s place in the semi-finals and bring European glory one step closer. In truth, the game had a strange feel to it, not one of a big European quarter-final tie.
It was a Dortmund XI a shadow of the side of last season, having lost some key players in the past year and further deprived by injury and suspension. They looked out of their depth and were put to the sword with ease.
The Madrid public shared this sentiment and as the rain came down, fans headed to the exits well before the full-time whistle, leaving a half-empty stadium knowing it was job done, a very odd scene for a European quarter-final.
With their La Liga hopes fading as each week goes on, Madrid may prioritise European glory this year, although the tenth title has long been an obsession in the Spanish capital. The only potential bad news of the evening was the departure of Ronaldo, who they will hope is not too badly injured. But with job done in this tie, Madrid will have the luxury of resting a few players and use their wealth and depth of talent before the semi-finals.
As Atletico Madrid and Barcelona do battle with each other in Europe and La Liga and start to pick up injuries, juggling the two competitions could prove too much. One would think that one of the pair would consider prioritising domestic glory with it being an easier task than beating Europe's best.
Bayern Munich remain Madrid's biggest rivals for 'Old Big Ears' but even the German champions have not reached their peak in Europe this year. They are by no means secured of a semi-final spot, having struggled against the poorest Manchester United side in many years.
Paris Saint-Germain are favourites to make the last four after beating Chelsea 3-1 and although they are a dangerous side with a great deal of attacking quality, they are still new to the latter stages of the competition. Madrid’s experience should tell if they were to meet.
Having being handed a comfortable run to the semi-finals, Madrid have made no mistakes so far, dispatching of their opponents with relative ease. After the past few weeks and defeats to Barca and Sevilla they will be more focused and determined than ever to take advantage of this opportunity. Madrid are so close to the final and although a big test awaits them in the semi, they will be desperate to end the wait for La Decima. The competition is certainly opening up for them.