Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho have eight days to define a season, writes Sid Lowe. On Tuesday night Real faces Barcelona away in the Copa del Rey semifinal second leg at Camp Nou, having tied 1-1 in the first; on Saturday it plays Barcelona again in La Liga at home, and next Tuesday travels to Manchester United in the Champions League, also tied 1-1 at home in the first leg.
Trailing Barcelona by 16 points in La Liga, Mourinho has already declared "impossible" a league corwn this season. So it must get positive results at Camp Nou and Old Trafford in order to avoid elimination in the two remaining competitions.
Or, to put it another way, Real could still be on course for a Copa del Rey final, having knocked out their bitterest rivals on route, and continuing its path toward a historic 10th European Cup – and the European Cup eclipses all else, always. Madrid's task may not prove as huge as is presupposed either: two draws may be sufficient. Two 2-2s and they will go through.
If Madrid does not get through it will not only mean that its season is effectively over with three months remaining, it will also mean that Mourinho's record over three years at Madrid with the most expensive team in history will read: one league and one cup. Two major titles from a possible nine.