By virtue of its long-term and recent success, Real Madrid starts every season as one of the favorites to contend for the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title. For a club that aims to win every trophy every season, the foreshortened 2018-19 edition of the EuroLeague took away a cherished opportunity to fight for its 11th continental crown. You can be sure that this veteran team will be chomping at the bit in 2020-21 to not let any chance at a new title slip away.
Round 2: Shootout rematch in home opener
One of the best games of last season was a crazy Round 12 shootout between Real and Valencia in Madrid, eventually won 111-99 by the host. The two teams combined for 29 three-pointers as nine different players scored in double figures, while Facundo Campazzo dished 17 assists. Real and Valencia, of course, know each other well from their tussles in the Spanish league and clearly took the approach last December that offense knows best. Neutrals will be hoping they do so again in the rematch for Real's first home game of the season, in Round 2.
Round 10: Fener comes to town
Not many people would have predicted that Real's biggest win last season would come in the hostile territory of the Ulker Sports and Events Hall, but that is exactly what happened as Los Blancos cruised to a 65-94 blowout in Round 25, just a couple of weeks before the season was prematurely ended. Real's crushing victory in that game, which included 30 assists, once again proved the ability of Coach Pablo Laso's team to rise to the occasion. Gaining another statement victory over the team it conquered in the 2018 championship game will be a mighty motivation for Real for this Round 10 match-up.
Round 17: In need of revenge
Real was powerless to stop the Efes juggernaut last season, losing 76-60 in Istanbul and suffering a 75-80 setback at home – the only time Real lost in Madrid all season. Those two victories gave Coach Ergin Ataman's team a serious psychological edge against a team they had previously struggled to beat. From 2015 onwards, Real had won seven straight meetings between them and scored at least 84 points in five consecutively. That sequence was well and truly ended last season and Los Blancos now need to restore their confidence against Shane Larkin and company in Round 17.
Round 29: Hosting El Clásico
One of the key factors in any clásico is winning the physical battle, and these age-old rivals will call upon last season's top two rebounders as they attempt to control the paint at WiZink Center in Round 29. Barca star – and former Real favorite – Nikola Mirotic grabbed a league-best 5.2 defensive rebounds per game, followed by Real giant Walter Tavares with 4.9 per night. Minimizing the number of second chances given to such potent offenses will be paramount, so the ability of Mirotic and Tavares to gain possession by protecting their boards could prove decisive.
Round 30: Meeting of last two champs
A week after welcoming Barcelona, sparks are guaranteed to fly again when European basketball's two most successful clubs meet close to the end of the regular season. Last season's game in Madrid saw Real (a record 10 titles) turn on the style to gain a convincing 97-81 victory over CSKA (eight titles, including the most recent). It was a particularly memorable night for Gabriel Deck, who combined 17 points with 11 rebounds and 6 assists for a career-best PIR of 33. And Coach Pablo Laso will hope that the great depth of his roster, allowing any player to prove decisive on any given night, will deliver another big home win.