EIBAR IN REAL’S WAY
Zidane’s side on verge of long-awaited title
REAL Madrid are poised to win a first La Liga title in five years today as Zinedine Zidane’s men hold a three-point lead over Barcelona heading into the final day of the season.
Barca need to beat Eibar at home to have any chance of a third straight title in outgoing coach Luis Enrique’s farewell to the Nou Camp.
Madrid have looked in ominous form as they’ve edged towards the title by thrashing Sevilla and Celta Vigo 4-1 in the past week with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice in both games.
“We have to continue what we are doing because the league isn’t finished yet,” warned Zidane after Celta were swept aside on Wednesday.
However, having lost just three league games all season it would be a huge shock if 11th-placed Malaga denied Madrid at the final hurdle.
Malaga, though, are one of La Liga’s form sides having picked up 13 points from their last five games.
The Andalusians also did Real a huge favour by beating Barcelona 2-0 last month.
And Malaga’s attitude towards the game will be under the spotlight after some controversial comments from their coach Michel.
The former Madrid favourite admitted he wanted the title decided before his old side visited as he would have preferred to give them a “guard of honour” than deal Madrid’s chances “a blow.”
Those statements sparked a war of words between Malaga and Barcelona with Barca lodging a complaint with the Spanish sporting authorities after Malaga’s Qatari owner Abdullah AlThani described them on Twitter as “the scum of Catalonia.”
Barca should at least have Malaga’s best player and top scorer this season on their side.
Sandro Ramirez made 32 appearances for Barca before moving to Malaga where he has scored 16 goals in his debut season.
And Sandro could be bidding his farewell to La Rosaleda with a host of leading Spanish and English clubs interested in his signature for next season.
Zidane is expected to unusually name an unchanged side from the team that started in Vigo in midweek with a two-week break to come before Madrid face Juventus in the Champions League final.
Ronaldo will be looking to build on his stunning record of 13 goals in his last eight games, but Gareth Bale remains sidelined.
Barca should at least force Real to get the point they need and give Enrique a victorious farewell when an Eibar side that have run out of steam after a great season visit the Nou Camp.
Atletico Madrid will play their final competitive game at the Vicente Calderon before moving to the 67,000 Wanda Metropolitano next season with Athletic Bilbao the visitors today.
That match will have ramifications for the only issue yet to be resolved as Villarreal, Athletic and Real Sociedad battle for two Europa League places.
Villarreal, who have a one point advantage over the two Basque clubs, visit Valencia, whilst Sociedad travel to Celta.
However, all three will be guaranteed a place in Europe next season if Barca beat Alaves in the King’s Cup final next weekend.
TODAY: Atletico v Bilbao, Valencia v Villarreal, Celta Vigo v Sociedad, Barcelona v Eibar, Malaga v Real. AFP