Published on May 16th, 2017 | by Paco Polit1
Relentless Real Madrid on brink of league title win in week of destiny
The La Liga title is almost in Real Madrid’s grasp. But there is still work to be done in the final two matches of the season for Zinedine Zidane
The La Liga trophy is set to return to Real Madrid’s display cabinet five years later, after another example of ruthlessness by Zinedine Zidane’s men against Sevilla (4-1). With two remaining games on their schedule, seizing four points against Celta de Vigo (Wednesday) and Málaga CF (Sunday) over the club’s last two games will be enough to bag the championship.
It’s been a weird season for Real, a steamroller of a team in the scoring aspect but quite flavorless in many games. That doesn’t worry Zidane, though. His plan of keeping all of his squad motivated, and not only the so-called ‘A-Team’, has proved successful. The still-rookie manager is only three games away of winning his first La Liga title and his second Champions League in a row.
Against Sevilla, Jorge Sampaoli’s team was more active on the first-half and Stefan Jovetic could’ve easily scored a hat-trick, but both Keylor Navas and the woodwork denied him. In turn, Madrid went to the locker room after the first 45 minutes with a two-goal lead thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo and a cheeky goal by Nacho Fernández, who took advantage of Sevilla’s defenders helping his team mate get up from the grass to score with a not-very-classy free-kick.
Jovetic found his reward early in the second half, but again Cristiano and Tony Kroos managed to close the game with ease. Facing the last week of competition, Real depends on itself to win back the La Liga trophy.
Barça, Europe’s saddest league leader
These days, it’s quite unfair to give stick to Barça. They are actually doing their job: they keep winning games and leading the standings, though their lead is based on a goal-average advantage that is just not enough to guarantee anything. Their visit to Gran Canaria netted a 1-4 result against a dead Las Palmas, another Neymar Junior rousing performance and little more.
Indeed, FC Barcelona keeps doing their homework but the reward remains far off. And it will be so as long as Madrid keeps winning. The extra game for the Madridistas has turned Barça into a sad side, professional when playing and quite reliable, but far from favourite to win the championship with only one match left next weekend vs Eibar.
In this conjunction, we’re sure Luis Enrique and his men will be contemplating the multiple (and unnecessary) stumbles the team has had in earlier months, and how all of them might cost them the championship trophy.
Sporting pays the price of mis-management
And the third spot in La Liga’s expressway to hell was booked by Sporting de Gijón. With Granada and Osasuna already demoted weeks ago, the poor Gijón side was clinging to a miracle happening both in their game (to be fair, they did win against Eibar 0-1 with a single goal by Jorge Franco ‘Burgui’) and in other stadiums. But Deportivo’s goal-less draw in Villarreal’s turf and Alexander Szymanowski’s second-half screamer for Leganés (1-1 in Bilbao) shattered their dreams of remaining in La Liga.
Sporting’s descent to darkness has several explanations, but most of the fault relies on some of the worst management in Europe, spearheaded by a Javier Fernández who holds both the president’s chair and the biggest amount of shares. Sporting will play next season in La Segunda… but the malaise will still lie within.
Europe becomes a mine-zone heading to the last game
The European spots have become the place with the most exciting stuff to watch in this season’s final rush. Things have heated up these past weeks, and currently Villarreal sits fifth with 64 points (their draw against Deportivo might cost them dearly), Athletic is sixth with 63 (they also couldn’t beat Leganés) and Real Sociedad is seventh with 63 points too, after yet another draw this week against Málaga at home (2-2).
The last game will see Villarreal visiting Mestalla and facing a Valencia CF with nothing on the line, although ruining the ‘Groguet’ chances of squeezing into Europe would delight the Valencianista fans. At the same time, Real Sociedad will visit Celta with the need to win and wait on what their opponents do at their games. Athletic Club won’t have it easy, though: their match will take place in El Calderón, in the last Rojiblanco match ever held in the emblematic stadium before Atlético de Madrid moves to La Peineta next season.