After dropping points for the second consecutive game in midweek, Real Madrid simply must win against Celta Vigo if they are to stand any chance of winning the La Liga title.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have wasted a golden opportunity to win the league after Atletico Madrid lost to Levante last weekend. The title was theirs to lose at that juncture, but consecutive draws first against Valencia and then Real Valladolid have seen Los Blancos surrender the initiative; now their championship chances are hanging by a thread.
If Los Rojiblancos can win their home game against Malaga this weekend, then Real’s hopes of completing a league, cup and Champions League treble will be done. But with all three of the title challengers—Real, Atletico and Barcelona—failing to win last weekend, it’s clear that pressure is starting to become a vital factor in this fascinating title race.
Real must show that they’re capable of handling the strain just in case Atletico do slip up. Their city rivals take on Barcelona on the final day of the season, so if Real can somehow make things a three-way fight on the final day, anything could happen.
They face a tricky trip to Celta Vigo first though, and here’s all the information you need on where to catch this pivotal game on the penultimate weekend in Spain’s top flight.
Date: Sunday 11 May 2014
Time: 6 p.m. (BST), 1 p.m. (ET)
Live Stream: Live via Sky Go App (UK), beIN Sports Play (US)
TV Information: Live on Sky Sports 1 via Red Button (UK), beIN Sports (US)
Despite enjoying a fruitful year during Ancelotti’s maiden campaign at the club, it must pain Madridistas to not only see Barcelona above them in the table, but their city rivals Atletico, too.
Ancelotti has already steered Real to a Cop del Rey triumph this season, and they’re also in the final of the Champions League on May 24. But the chance of an historic treble was there for the taking and unfortunately for those of a Real Madrid allegiance, it looks as though they have blown it.
One piece of positive news ahead of their penultimate game of the season is that Cristiano Ronaldo is set to feature. There were concerns about the fitness of the forward after he limped off in the draw against Valladolid, but he and Gareth Bale—who missed the game in midweek due to injury—took part in training ahead of this one, as tweeted by the official Real Madrid account:
Even if the Portuguese international was missing, Madrid look to have found a new goalscoring sensation anyway. In the unlikely form of Sergio Ramos! Usually famed for his dynamic defensive attributes, Ramos has found his touch in front of goal as of late.
He scored a superb free-kick against Valladolid on his 400th appearance for Real, continuing a pretty prolific spell, as noted here by ESPN’s Paul Carr:
Sergio Ramos has scored in four straight games for the first time. He has five goals in his last four games.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 7, 2014
In Celta Vigo, Los Blancos will face a very stern test. After returning to the Spanish top flight last season, Os Celestes have enjoyed a couple of years of encouraging progression.
Former Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique is currently at the helm of the Galician club and they’ve really impressed in the second part of the campaign. Enrique has moulded a team that play a vibrant, enterprising style, and you suspect their supporters will be right up for this one after a campaign that could see them finish as high as eighth in the table.
The job done by Enrique has seen him linked with a move to Barcelona in the summer, where it’s widely anticipated that Tata Martino will be relieved of his duties, per Alex Richards in the Mirror.
Given Enrique’s Blaugrana roots, it just adds another twist to this upcoming clash, and you suspect he’ll be keen to put an end to any lingering title hopes Real might harbour. There’s certainly some underlying tensions there too, as noted here by fan account Neymarred:
What makes Luis Enrique cooler is the fact Real Madrid absolutely hate him. And he absolutely hates them too.— Neymarred (@Neymarred) May 7, 2014
So expect a fervent contest at the Estadio Balaidos on Sunday. Both teams will be looking to attack for different reasons, and that should make for a gripping 90 minutes of action.
Who will win this one?
Celta are a very capable outfit, but considering their willingness to come forward, Madrid will find an abundance of space when they counter in that typical swashbuckling manner. Given the embarrassment of attacking riches at Ancelotti’s disposal, Los Blancos should create plenty of opportunities and score a few goals too.
Real will edge this one, but whether or not a win will breathe life back into their title challenge remains to be seen and will depend on events at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
Prediction: Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid