Real Madrid Must Carry Momentum from Valencia Win into 2nd Half

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2013

Real Madrid unleashed their early-season frustration out on an uninspired Valencia squad at the Estadio de Mestalla on Sunday night.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria shined during the five-goal first half, as both players scored twice and provided an assist.

When the season ends, Sunday's thumping of Valencia could end up being the turning point for the rest of the season.

While the La Liga title is most likely out of reach—unless Barcelona have their worst second half of the season in recent history—Los Blancos are still in contention to take home two prestigious titles this season.

In the Copa del Rey, Jose Mourinho's club returns to the Mestalla on Wednesday with a two-goal advantage over Valencia in the quarterfinals. 

Defeating Valencia for a third time in eight days should be an easy task for Real Madrid to accomplish as they head toward a potential semifinal El Clasico matchup with Barcelona. 

While a showdown with Barcelona is a high possibility, Real Madrid already know who their Round of 16 opponents will be in the UEFA Champions League.

EPL leaders Manchester United will square off with Los Blancos starting on Feb. 13 at the Bernabeu.

With two massive clubs about to fill their fixture list for the next month, an impressive performance like the one we saw on Sunday from Madrid is the perfect start to the second half of the season.

The attacking trio of Ronaldo, Di Maria and Mesut Ozil worked to perfection on Sunday at the Mestalla, with four goals and four assists coming from the Real Madrid stars. 

Not only did the attack look excellent on Sunday, Iker Casillas improved his stellar play in goal with his third consecutive clean sheet.

Despite whatever conflict Casillas had with Mourinho a few weeks ago, it looks like the two have gotten along and the best keeper on the Madrid roster seems to be back where he belongs between the posts. 

In the back four, Madrid's center-back combination of Raphael Varane and Raul Albiol worked efficiently to deny Valencia of any wide-open goal-scoring opportunities. 

The pair filling in for the suspended Sergio Ramos and the injured Pepe played well in front Casillas, and there is no need to think that their stellar play will not carry over the next few matches. 

If the regular combination of Ramos and Pepe were in the lineup on Sunday, Valencia would have been limited to far less than the 20 shots they attempted, four of which were on target. 

With a squad reaching its full potential and seeing the return of its two center-backs, a magnificent second-half run is not out of the question. 

Real Madrid have the goal-scoring talent and strong defenders to contain and defeat Barcelona in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey. 

Mourinho's men will have plenty of confidence that they can take down the Catalan giants in a two-legged semifinal, as they held their Spanish rival to a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou in October.

As for their Champions League opponents, if Madrid attack United like they did on Sunday, they should cruise to a spot in the quarterfinals. 

Manchester United's defense has suffered plenty of lapses this season and they can not afford any errors against the potent attack of Real Madrid.

All of these potential wins over giant opposition sound great while writing and reading it, but all the hype surrounding Los Blancos at the moment will be justified if they play at the same high level that they did on Sunday at the Mestalla. 


Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.