In Focus: Ancelotti's Los Blancos finally look the Real deal
Real Madrid have a reputation for being one of the biggest clubs in world football.
With such a reputation comes expectation — this has always been the case for Los Blancos.
The 2021-22 campaign under Carlo Ancelotti stuttered at first but things are beginning to come together for the LaLiga leaders.
They face Sheriff in the Champions League tomorrow, hoping to make amends for a humiliating 2-1 loss to the Moldovan champions in September.
Here, we take a look at Madrid's season so far and discuss what the fearsome Spanish side can achieve this term.
Madrid handed their title rivals an early boost when they dropped points against Levante in the second match of their domestic campaign.
Despite this, Ancelotti's men have only lost one LaLiga game so far this season — away to Espanyol last month.
Los Merengues are looking to snatch the league title away from city rivals Atletico Madrid and the early signs look good.
They have a one-point lead over second-placed Real Sociedad, with Diego Simeone's side a further three points back.
Karim Benzema sits top of the goalscoring charts with 10 strikes this season with Vinicius Junior in a close second having scored eight.
In addition, Madrid emerged victorious in the first El Clasico of the season, beating Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou.
This has given them confidence and momentum in the league and they show no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Madrid hold the record for having won the Champions League the most times with 13 titles.
But Los Blancos have failed to reach any of the last three finals since their 2018 triumph, a notable absence considering their European heritage.
Madrid were knocked out of last season's semi-finals by eventual winners Chelsea and will be hoping to improve on their recent knockout record.
Ancelotti's side sit top of their Champions League group, two points clear of their nearest challengers Inter Milan.
The group leaders are not guaranteed qualification into the knockout stages just yet though — surprise package Sheriff are still in touch with the top two thanks to their impressive performances.
Madrid face Sheriff on Wednesday knowing that a win will all but guarantee their place in the next stage of the competition.
Los Blancos will have no misconceptions that beating the minnows will be an easy task after being humbled by Sebastien Thill's late winner in the reverse fixture.
If the Spanish giants wish to add to their Champions League tally, they must be ruthless and decisive in their upcoming fixtures.
Ancelotti guided Madrid to La Decima in 2014 on a historic night for the club.
In his second spell in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Italian coach has spoken of his desire to repeat this success.
Ancelotti said: "The Champions League is special for me. I won it twice as a player and have very good memories of it as a player and a coach.
"What I will say is that Real Madrid will always compete in the Champions League.
"This club has won the competition more times than anyone else and we intend to go all out."
It is clear that Ancelotti and Madrid are motivated and determined to win this season.
However, they will have to be at their absolute best if they are to challenge on both a domestic and European front.
The new Galacticos?
Despite the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos in recent times, Madrid do have the star power to propel the club towards greatness this term.
Benzema has taken centre stage since Ronaldo's departure — the 33-year-old has the most league assists (seven) in 2021-22 to go alongside his impressive goalscoring form.
In addition to the flourishing Frenchman, midfield stalwarts Luka Modric and Toni Kroos continue to marvel in midfield, while Vinicius and Eduardo Camavinga are standout examples of the next generation of talent.
If Ancelotti can find a winning formula, a blend of youth and experience may be the secret to another trophy-laden season.