Real fo­cus on Sevilla af­ter reach­ing third Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal

New Straits Times - - Sport -

REAL Madrid, still crow­ing from reach­ing a third Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in four years, will turn their fo­cus to win­ning their first La Liga ti­tle since 2012 when they play Sevilla in their fi­nal home game of the sea­son to­mor­row.

Real’s Cham­pi­ons League tri­umphs in 2014 and 2016 have dis­tracted from ri­vals Barcelona’s creep­ing dom­i­na­tion in the do­mes­tic league, with the Cata­lans win­ning five of the last seven ti­tles.

Even Atletico Madrid, who Zine­dine Zi­dane’s side saw off for the fourth con­sec­u­tive year on the Euro­pean stage on Wed­nes­day with a 4-2 ag­gre­gate vic­tory, have won the ti­tle more re­cently than Real.

In a nail-bit­ing end to the cam­paign, Real and Barcelona are locked on 84 points at the top of the ta­ble. While Barca have a su­pe­rior head-to-head record, Real have a game in hand, fac­ing Celta Vigo next week be­fore their fi­nal fix­ture against Malaga.

Seven points out of a max­i­mum nine will be enough to end Real’s five-year run with­out win­ning the do­mes­tic ti­tle.

“Now we have to go for the league ti­tle, we re­ally want to win it, and then we’ll have time to think about the fi­nal in Cardiff,” said Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

Even though they have a record 32 Liga crowns and 11 Euro­pean Cups, Real have of­ten strug­gled to com­bine their do­mes­tic and Euro­pean cam­paigns. They last achieved the dou­ble in 1958.

Fourth-placed Sevilla look like Real’s most dif­fi­cult op­po­nents in the three re­main­ing games, though Jorge Sam­paoli’s team are far from the swash­buck­ling side that ended Real’s 40-game un­beaten run in Jan­uary.

Sevilla have won just three of their last 12 games, stum­bling to­wards fourth place and the fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League berth. Sam­paoli is ex­pected to leave the club in the sum­mer to take up the va­cant Ar­gentina job.

Cham­pi­ons Barcelona, mean­while, make the long jour­ney to the Ca­nary Is­lands to face a Las Pal­mas side also strug­gling for form, hav­ing lost seven of their last 10 games, and who the Cata­lans thrashed 5-0 back in Jan­uary.

Barca’s hopes of a third suc­ces­sive ti­tle de­pend on Real Madrid slip­ping up, but for­ward Ney­mar said his side were only fo­cus­ing on their games.

“We can’t be think­ing about Madrid, we can only think about our­selves,” the Brazil­ian said in an in­ter­view with BeIN Sports.

“If we do what we have to, I think we can be­come cham­pi­ons. If we don’t give ev­ery­thing then we won’t win our games.”

TO­DAY: Es­panyol v Va­len­cia, Osasuna v Granada; TO­MOR­ROW: Alaves v Celta Vigo, Bil­bao v Le­ganes, Eibar v Gi­jon, Las Pal­mas v Barcelona, Betis v Atletico, Real v Sevilla, So­ciedad v Malaga, Vil­lar­real v De­portivo. Reuters

Fla­mengo’s Vini­cius Ju­nior is close to sign­ing a deal with Real Madrid.

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