The best is yet to come from Real Madrid
Real Madrid are through to the next stage of the Champions League as expected but they will need to up their performance levels ahead of the first knock out round.
The Spanish champions have done enough to progress from a group that also included the champions of Germany, England and Holland. They finished with a record of three wins, two draws and a single defeat.
Their attacking play was superb with 15 goals scored but the defence will be a big concern as nine goals were conceded. The only defeat during the group stage came away to Borussia Dortmund.
The side need to tighten up defensively because there is barely any room to recover over a two leg knock out tie. A bad match could see Real Madrid out of the tournament which will heap even more pressure onto Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho has proven himself to be very shrewd tactically through these group games which suggests Real Madrid won’t be looking to set off the fireworks until later into the competition.
While there is ongoing speculation over the future of the manager and of various key players, the main point for Real Madrid will be to make it into the last eight where they can start thinking about winning the tournament.
The big wins over Ajax (scoring eight goals and conceding just two) suggest that Real Madrid can go through to the last eight comfortably if they come up against an inferior side.
However, the results against Borussia Dortmund (a 2-1 defeat and 2-2 draw) and Manchester City (a 3-2 win and 1-1) draw show they can be vulnerable against bigger sides in the tournament.
However, Mourinho knows that Real Madrid will be competitive in the last 16 regardless of who they are drawn against. It’s a simple case of selecting a well drilled and fit team and using the right tactics.
The changes needed in defence are not huge and Mourinho will rectify this quickly. At times they are playing too high up the pitch and at times there is too much space between defenders, these are small problems Mourinho is good enough to iron out quickly.