BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid is set to place an even greater emphasis on winning the Spanish league title after ending its quest for an elusive 10th European Cup last season.
For 12 straight years, Madrid's coaches and players had been tasked with winning another Champions League title, a mission that had grown into an obsession that overshadowed winning the domestic crown.
Now Madrid can turn its full attention to winning the title, which it has raised just once in the last six season.
"Above all it takes away the pressure," said Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas on having won the European title. "I hope that having won it we have opened an escape valve to reduce some of the anxiety and anguish."
Here are five things you should know about Real Madrid before beginning its Spanish league campaign at home against Cordoba on Monday:
Seemingly insatiable when it comes to basking in the spotlight, Cristiano Ronaldo should be eager to rebound from a disappointing World Cup with Portugal as he tries to repeat being voted the FIFA world player of the year.
Hampered by nagging injuries, Ronaldo couldn't help Portugal make it out of the group stage at this summer's World Cup. Instead, he had to watch as Barcelona rival Lionel Messi guided Argentina to the final before succumbing to Germany.
Last year the 29-year-old Ronaldo ended Messi's four-year run as the world best player en route to scoring a record-setting 17 goals to help Madrid to the Champions League title as well as leading the Spanish league with 31 goals.
Ronaldo has started the season in fine form by scoring twice to give Madrid the European Super Cup title over Sevilla.
"I had problems at the end of last season and at the World Cup, but that is over," Ronaldo said. "I am back."
WHO'S IN GOAL?
The main drama in Madrid will be between the goal posts as Iker Casillas competes with new signing Keylor Navas for the starting job.
Casillas is beloved by a large segment of Madrid fans, but the team captain hasn't been Madrid's starter in league play since former coach Jose Mourinho demoted him two seasons ago.
Casillas' disastrous showing for Spain in the World Cup was followed by Madrid acquiring Navas after his outstanding play with Costa Rica.
So despite Diego Lopez's exit for AC Milan the debate will rage on over who should be Madrid's No. 1 'keeper.
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