A final in February

Real Madrid face Zalgiris this Thursday at the WiZink Center (9:00 pm, Dazn). Qualifying for the quarterfinals is red hot.

A-final-in-February

The Euroleague enters its final phase with only nine days to conclude the regular phase and meet the eight qualified for the quarterfinals, the prelude to the Final Four in Cologne (Germany). And it is not at all easy to make predictions in a fickle competition, the most even since the format of all against all was established in 2016, because of the coronavirus (postponed games, compressed calendar, empty stands ...). The disease has raised the concept of good and bad streaks to its highest expression.

Madrid is one of the best examples: they started low on the seesaw with just one victory in the first four days and then rose to heaven with a balance of 11-1. Now, he touches the ground again with five defeats in the last eight games, the last two in a row against TD Systems Baskonia and Valencia Basket to complete an astonishing 0 out of 5 against the Endesa League clubs.

A rise and fall that has complicated his career in the Euroleague more than necessary. Real (5th in the standings) have with 15 the same victories as Zenit, Bayern Munich and a Fenerbahçe who have ten consecutive wins. They are three less than those of the leader, Barça, and only one more than Anadolu Efes, eighth with one game less, and Zalgiris, ninth and their rival today at the WiZink Center. Valencia (13) and Baskonia (12) are still holding on to their options to access the next phase. Above all, the taronjas, which are at stake to be in the next edition of the competition: if they are not among the top eight, goodbye to sleep.

The minimum scores

Falling before the Lithuanians would put the whites on the wire at the gates of the duel against the evicted Khimki (2-12, 15 consecutive defeats) and before the great ascent to Tourmalet: Barça, CSKA and Efes in the Palace, and Zenit and Fenerbahçe, out. Against the Turks the competition closes. Between giant and giant, the unpredictable Asvel and Olympiacos.

And everything, with a squad eternally sore from injuries, without Rudy Fernández or Jeff Taylor (Llull is doubtful), still recovering, touched by the latest setbacks (Copa del Rey included) and with a minimum number on the horizon: closing the regular phase with at least 50% wins. In two of the first three Euroleagues with the current system and 16 teams (since last year there are 18, which makes everything more unpredictable), the eighth finished the regular phase with 53.3%. Only in 2018-19 was 50% enough. Madrid is right now at 60% and would need to win two games to level their triumphs and defeats; three to get to 53% and four to 55%. Relax or suffering. The Zalgiris will lead the way.



Photos from as.com
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