Real Madrid can afford to dream, and not just in La Liga.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men are currently preparing for their final Champions League group stage outing, facing Inter Milan.
A point or more will secure top spot for Real Madrid, ensuring they face one of the second-placed teams from one of the other groups.
But can Real Madrid really dream of a 14th Champions League title? Ancelotti has played it cool recently, but there is reason to think otherwise.
But Real Madrid are not to be discounted given the momentum they have built up this season.
Ancelotti’s men are now on a run of eight straight wins across all competitions, establishing an eight-point lead at the top of La Liga.
It’s true that the Champions League requires something more, a certain kind of team, a certain kind of game plan.
History has told us that league dominance means nothing when it comes to Europe’s premier club competition.
But let’s look at what Real Madrid do have in their favour.
They have one of the best goalkeepers in the world, for starters.
Beyond that, they have a settled back-line, featuring one of the best centre-backs in the world, on current form, in David Alaba.
His centre-back partner Eder Militao compliments him wonderfully, and the Brazilian is one of this season’s most underrated performers.
The midfield three of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos may be the best midfield trio in the world, not to mention the level of experience and game managed they have amassed from the biggest games in the Champions League.
Beyond the structure of the team, Real Madrid have a squad full of Champions League winners – they are not only full of confidence, but they have been here before.
They also have a head coach who has been here before, though one of the few things to potentially hold them back is Ancelotti’s resistance to resting key players.
That will have to be adjusted if Real Madrid are to make a deep run in the Champions League.
And we mentioned that league dominance doesn’t help too much, but it does have an impact.
For example, Real Madrid are going to be far more capable of giving everything in the Champions League if they have already established a big enough lead in La Liga to be able to rest players domestically in the latter months.
Bayern Munich, who are many people’s favourites, may also eventually find themselves in such a position, but the Premier League isn’t going to play out that way.
This season’s Premier League is at the highest standard and is the most competitive it has been in many years, and it looks as though Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are going to be at each other’s throats until the very end of the season.
That helps Real Madrid on the European stage, and even if they may lack one or two of the superstar talents some of these other teams have, there are plenty of reasons to include Los Blancos in the conversation when we discuss their Champions League title hopes this season.