Tony Adams’ Granada side lost their seventh game in a row under his management Friday as Espanyol picked up a 2-1 win at Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes in La Liga.
The visitors were two goals to the good in quick succession, with Leo Baptistao firing Espanyol ahead before an own goal from Ruben Vezo doubled their advantage. Andreas Pereira, on loan from Manchester United, halved the deficit, but Granada rarely threatened an equaliser on the night.
On Sunday, the focus will be on the title race as Real Madrid know a solitary point against Malaga will be enough for them to clinch their first La Liga crown in five years. Barcelona must beat Eibar and hope the Costa del Sol club can do them a favour if they’re to retain.
Below are the fixtures for the weekend, a recap of how Friday’s action played out and a look ahead to what’ll be an absorbing final day.
|La Liga 2016-17: Week 38|
|Friday, May 19||7:45 p.m.||Granada 1-2 Espanyol|
|Saturday, May 20||4 p.m.||Sporting Gijon vs. Real Betis|
|Saturday, May 20||6 p.m.||Deportivo vs. Las Palmas|
|Saturday, May 20||6 p.m.||Leganes vs. Alaves|
|Saturday, May 20||8 p.m.||Sevilla vs. Osasuna|
|Sunday, May 21||3:45 p.m.||Valencia vs. Villarreal|
|Sunday, May 21||3:45 p.m.||Celta Vigo vs. Real Sociedad|
|Sunday, May 21||3:45 p.m.||Atletico Madrid vs. Athletic Club|
|Sunday, May 21||7 p.m.||Malaga vs. Real Madrid|
|Sunday, May 21||7 p.m.||Barcelona vs. Eibar|
For the updated standings, visit the Sky Sports website.
In their final home game under Adams, Granada got off to the worst possible start, finding themselves two goals down in the space of just eight minutes.
Within three minutes, Baptistao had the visitors ahead, pouncing on a loose ball in the penalty area. Granada goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa will feel he should have done better with the effort.
There was nothing he could do about the second goal, though, as Vezo put through his own net in peculiar circumstances. The defender tried to clear from a Baptistao cross but slipped and sliced his effort past Ochoa.
It was a long way back for the home side, and to their credit, they did show some improvement, with Pereira getting them a foothold with a strong, low finish. Per the Selecao Brasileira Twitter feed, he’s had a decent campaign overall:
However, Granada were unable to sustain any pressure in search of a second goal. Baptistao, meanwhile, was always a threat at the other end of the field and should have wrapped up the three points for the Catalan club.
Three points for Espanyol sees them move up into eighth position for the time being. Granada’s loss, their eighth in a row in the league, ensures they will end 2016-17 bottom of the pile.
In 1992 and 1993, Real Madrid led Barcelona heading into the final day of the La Liga season. But in both campaigns, Los Blancos lost to Tenerife, opening the door for their great rivals to snatch the crown.
While plenty of the playing squads for both sides would be far too young to remember those late collapses, it’s a reminder for Real—strange things can happen at the back end of a campaign.
Even so, since the title race was burst wide open by Lionel Messi at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid have kept their cool. That was no more evident than in midweek against Celta Vigo when they negotiated a potentially testing away fixture with ease.
In Cristiano Ronaldo, they have a man who is coming into form at the perfect time too. As we can see, in the 4-1 win at Balaidos, he reached another landmark:
Although it’s been reported Malaga will be in receipt of a €1 million bonus from Los Blancos if Madrid do win the league due to a clause in Isco’s contract, their star forward, Sandro Ramirez, has made it clear he wants to help his old club out.
"Hopefully I can score and hand the title to Barcelona," he told La Liga World (h/t AS). "Hopefully it's a dream day; I owe them [Barca] everything."
Still, it’s tough to envisage a scenario where Madrid do lose at Malaga as they’ve proven incredibly difficult to beat under Zinedine Zidane.
But Barcelona must preserve some hope and ensure they fulfil their end of the bargain with a win over an impressive Eibar team. Should they rattle in a couple of early goals, attentions of those in the stand would surely turn to goings on at La Rosaleda, especially if their rivals are involved in a tight game.