The unthinkable has happened.
Real Madrid, after bombing out of the Champions League to Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, completely lose their heads and finish seventh in La Liga a full 50 points behind Barcelona, who won every game after the winter break.
The disastrous 2017/18 league campaign sees Cristiano Ronaldo leave the Bernabeu on the transfer deadline day to milk the Man United cash cow one more time.
Football’s worst kept secret of Florentino Perez swooping for Neymar obviously falls through and Madrid spend their war chest on bringing in Francis Coquelin after half a season at Valencia and Jack Wilshere from Arsenal.
Perez calls it a masterstroke bringing two players with crucial ‘second tier competition’ experience.
Real Betis beat Los Blancos on the final day of the season to beat them to sixth place meaning Madrid have to navigate the qualifying rounds before joining the group stage.
A tie against Ireland’s Shamrock Rovers awaits following Madrid’s demolition of Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps 10-0 on aggregate.
EU 1-0 Brexit.
Luckily with the Europa League qualifying starting basically the week after the season ends, Ronny was still around to return to the stadium where he made his Real Madrid debut but had an equally disappointing game on his second appearance at the Tallaght Stadium.
Madrid scraped a 0-0 draw in the first leg and managed to beat Shamrock 1-0 in the home game with Zinedine Zidane forced to play himself as most of the first team chose to go on holiday instead of subject themselves to this.
With qualification secured Perez immediately sacked Zidane despite winning two Champions Leagues in three years. Zidane claims it was a mutiny from the players and secures his son a transfer to Barcelona as revenge.
Perez appoints himself as chairman-manager saying he is the only person with the pedigree to take the team forward.
No one from Madrid bothers to turn up to the Europa League group stage draw in Zurich resulting in UEFA’s special guest Zidane picking the warm balls to put Madrid in a group with Kosovo’s FC Prishtina, FC Torpedo Kutaisi out of Georgia and Azerbaijani side Gabala FK.
While the opposition do not pose any problems in terms of talent, a laborious travel schedule around Eastern Europe leaves the players suffering from a goulash-related fatigue.
Wilshere picks up a *shock* injury in the first game and is out for the rest of the season and Perez realises that Coquelin is just a poor man’s Casemiro, signalling the end of both experiments.
Four wins out of six secures progression into the knockout rounds and Madrid play their under-12 side for the last two, they get kicked off the park by Prishtina and Gabala and predictably lose both.
The exertions of Thursday-Sunday football leave the former galacticos closer to the bottom of La Liga than the top by January for the second year in a row.
Last 32 – Astana
Madrid draw Kazakhstan champions Astana out of the pot for the last 32 game and face a treacherous journey to the land of fermented horse milk and the first apples.
Rafa Varane refuses to get on the team jet after claiming he already made dinner plans with the rest of the France team who are always free on Thursdays.
Marcos Asensio, finally allowed to play now Ronaldo has left, scores hat tricks in both games to put Los Blancos through 6-0 on aggregate.
Last 16 – Lokomotiv Moscow
A trip to Russia beckons as it begins to appear that Perez may not be all he cracked himself up to be as manager.
Deep divisions in the squad see a press release to Marca from the players insisting they see Sergio Ramos as the player/manager.
The tournament’s top scorer 34-year-old Jefferson Farfan bags nets twice in six inches of snow in the first game before two Ramos headers from corners equals the aggregate score in the return.
Ramos is sent off on the final whistle for two yellows in two minutes but thankfully summer signing David De Gea saves four Lokomotiv penalties and Madrid progress.
Quarter finals – Everton
Prior to the game there are reports in Liverpool that Allaradyce is considering the match as an audition to take the hot seat at the Bernabeu.
Allardici plans to use an Aaron Lennon-Theo Walcott- Yannick Bolasie trident to bamboozle the Madrid backline.
There is plenty of intent from the Toffees but zero end product.
Madrid edge it 2-0 over two legs.
Semi finals – PSG
Now it’s starting to get serious.
The team are in the equivalent of the La Liga shadow realm, sitting in 9th place, but a Europa League triumph would restore their Champions League position for next season.
PSG are relegated from Europe’s top tournament by UEFA for failing to adhere to to Financial Fair Play rules after spending £360million on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in just over a year.
Neymar dazzles in the home leg as PSG take a historic 4-0 lead to the Bernabeu.
However, Madrid emulate Barcelona in taking PSG to the cleaners and overturning the deficit with three last minute goals to run out 5-4 winners.
Final – Arsenal
By this point, last year’s runners up Arsenal are specialists when it comes to playing in the Europa.
The Gooners are in a fierce battle with Burnley for ninth place in the Premier League and both they and Madrid need this to secure a Champions League spot next season.
A week before the match Arsene Wenger is handed another two year contract thanks to his runners up medal from the previous year.
Arsenal’s attacking trip of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierrre-Emerick Aubameyange and Alexandre Lacazette cause Madrid all sort of problems at the back and give the English side a 2-0 lead going into the break.
According to the Real Madrid mascot, Ramos kicks Perez out of the changing room at half time and delivers the team talk himself.
The effect is startling, Asensio suddenly looks unplayable, Lucas Vasquez is causing all sorts of problems and Coquelin comes on show Wenger what he’s missing.
One goal each from Ramos and Asensio and a brace from Luka Modric hands Madrid the trophy they never wanted, the game finishes 4-3 after a late Coquelin OG.
Madrid retake their rightful place in the Champions League for the next season and everyone is happy.
Except Zidane, Perez, the players and the fans.