x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

At the start of this year's Primera Liga Jose Mourinho has the advantage

Jose Mourinho was brought in to topple Barca in 2010 and he did it. Real Madrid took the Primera Liga title last season and are favoured to do it again this season.

Jose Mourinho has brought Real Madrid to the summit in the Primera Liga and his side is favoured to stay there this season.
Jose Mourinho has brought Real Madrid to the summit in the Primera Liga and his side is favoured to stay there this season.

 

Spanish football is obsessed by the theory that every great team goes through a beginning, peak and decline. There is no such thing as a transition.

Barcelona were considered to be at their zenith a year ago. So how is it that they are not even favourites to win Spain's Primera Liga?

The continued rise of Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, that's why. Spearheaded by the always improving Cristiano Ronaldo, Real won their first title since 2008, ending a run of three successive Barca titles and prompting the Catalan coach Pep Guardiola to step down.

Mourinho was brought in to topple Barca in 2010 and he did it.

Mourinho's side held their nerve to win at Camp Nou in April and with Guardiola's replacement, Tito Vilanova, fresh to top flight coaching, Spain thinks Real have the edge going into this season.

Barca hope their second-place finish was a blip and that Vilanova, who was Guardiola's right-hand man for five years, will maintain Barca's dominance.

Vilanova, 42, is already familiar with Mourinho after the Real boss poked him in the eye during last season's Spanish Super Cup.

The same tie between the same two teams will commence next week. Like Guardiola, Vilanova will try not to rise to Mourinho's baiting. He will have learnt from his former master and he has faith in the stellar talents at Camp Nou.

Spain awaits what happens next between the world's best two sides. The margins for error are tiny, with the failure of either to win the league or the Champions League considered a disappointment - that's how high expectations are.

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