Wednesday, January 24, 2018 | ePaper
Rejuvenated Real Madrid eye fifth prize of 2017
Real Madrid can round off the most successful year in the club's already glorious history by claiming a fifth trophy in 2017 at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi this week.
They won La Liga, the Champions League, UEFA and Spanish Super Cup in a thrilling fashion after hitting top form in a four-month spell between April and August, but since then the European champions have faded, understandably fatigued by a heavy schedule.
Madrid trail Barca by eight points at the top of La Liga and finished second to Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions League group, which proved costly as they were paired with free-spending Paris Saint-Germain in a blockbuster last 16 tie on Monday.However, traces of the Madrid that swept aside the likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Barcelona in the spring and summer were back as Real hit five past Sevilla before half-time in a 5-0 rout on Saturday.
Until then Madrid had lacked the same killer instinct as last season with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema scoring a combined total of just six times in La Liga, while Gareth Bale has made just one brief appearance as a substitute since September