Real Madrid can take a victory lap of sorts when it takes on Granada having already secured the La Liga title with a 3-0 win against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday. The Blancos survived a late charge from rival Barcelona to claim their 32nd championship.
It's the first title in four years for Madrid.
The Blancos used a combination of tremendous offensive firepower and strong road play to pull away from Barça. A semifinal loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League stopped them from completing the coveted double-title season, however.
As for Granada, two more points are still needed to guarantee the team will stay in La Liga for another season, but the Grana should be safe. That's a nice accomplishment for a recently-promoted team, but they still have a long way to go before competing for a European spot.
Where: Los Carmenes in Granada, Spain
When: Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m. EST
Watch: Gol TV USA and ESPN3.com
Betting Odds: Real Madrid -310, Granada +775, Draw +385
Player to Watch for Granada: Odion Ighalo
Ighalo scored just three goals in his first 25 league appearances, but has matched that total over the last two games. He's tallied both of Granada's goals in a 2-1 victory over Espanyol earlier in the week, so he's clearly in great form heading into the match.
While he's always had the talent to make things happen, it seems like things are finally starting to click for the 22-year-old Nigerian. Going up a stout Real Madrid back line will be a good measuring stick for exactly how far he's come in his development.
His loan from Udinese has worked out perfectly for everybody involved since his playing time would have been less consistent with the Italian side. The experience against elite competition will benefit him moving forward.
Player to Watch for Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo
The dominance of Ronaldo and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi continues to amaze.
They have been locking in a goal-scoring race all season with Messi leading 46 to 44 right now. The next closest player is Falcao of Atletico Madrid with just 23.
Coming back to win the scoring title would be like icing on the cake for Ronaldo. His consistency makes him dangerous. He hasn't had a stretch of more than three games all season with scoring a goal. That's a lot easier said than done when you consider how easy it's to slump.
In the first meeting between the two sides, Ronaldo scored once on 10 shots. Manager Jose Mourinho will be looking for more efficiency from his top scorer on Saturday. With Messi on his mind, Ronaldo should have no trouble providing it.
Key Matchup: Julio Cesar vs. Real Madrid Attack
Not to be confused with the same-named keeper from Inter Milan, Cesar has received plenty of the playing time between the pipes for Granada while on loan from Benfica. He's recorded two clean sheets in 14 games.
He'll face a dynamic group of attacking players from Real Madrid. Led by the aforementioned Ronaldo, the Blancos have three elite scoring threats. Strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema have combined to score 42 goals in league play.
If the Grana have any chance of walking away with at least one point, Cesar will need to have a strong showing. Madrid will pepper him with shots early and often, so it will come down to how long he can withstand the barrage.
What They're Saying
Blancos goalkeeper Iker Casillas wasn't completely satisfied with the season since Madrid came up short in the Champions League, but he's already started looking ahead to next season (via ESPN):
"The season has been very long and tough," captain Iker Casillas said. "We've taken a little step forward with respect to last season. The big pity has been the Champions League. Hopefully we can do it next season."
"The coach is also a very important part in this. We dedicate this to all Madrid fans who wanted a league title. We hope to take another little step forward next year. It was difficult to beat a team like Barcelona we've done it."
Real Madrid 3, Granada 0
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