Manchester United host Real Madrid on March 5 with Madrid due to play arch-rivals Barcelona’s just three days earlier on the March 2 in a game which could allow Barcelona to extend their advantage at the top of La Liga to an unassailable amount. The gap between Spain’s biggest clubs is currently 15 points and anything but a victory would effectively end Madrid’s (faint) hopes of regaining the title.
While Mourinho has publicly admitted that the race is “over”, there is still plenty of pride at stake and a defeat for Madrid could put Mourinho under increased pressure ahead of the huge Champions League tie against United.
Moving the league fixture from Saturday the March 2 would also mean that there would be only one days rest for both Barcelona and Madrid as they are also scheduled to face each other in the Copa Del Rey on the February 27.
Should the cup fixture be moved to the February 26, that would leave just a day between the clubs respective league fixtures on 24 February. To move these fixtures back a day would certainly benefit Madrid but it would require co-operation from both Sevilla and Deportivo as well as the Spanish Football Federation.
Without a change in fixtures, Madrid would face the challenging prospect of four games in ten days. It has already been a tumultuous season for Jose Mourinho’s side with a number of fallouts with senior players. Reports in Spain have even suggested that both Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos have issued those in high places at the club an ultimatum over the future of the Portuguese manager.
Manchester United face the prospect of a much cosier group of fixtures in the run-up to the Madrid home leg with Norwich at home and a visit to West Ham sandwiched between the Champions League tie.
The re-jig of Los Blancos fixtures could give them a huge boost ahead of the second leg against United. However, it will be a complex operation with the Professional Football League, T.V broadcasters, Barcelona, Deportivo La Coruna and Sevilla all theoretically needing to agree to the changes.
Madrid are often thought of as the most powerful team in Spain dating back to the Franco era in Spain and a number of pro-Madrid media outlets could put pressure on the authorities to rearrange a number of games.
Manchester United have been rejected by the FA in the past when trying to re-arrange fixtures around a UEFA Champions League match and it will be very interesting to see if Real Madrid can get it changed to suit their schedule better.