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Real Madrid on brink of breaking Barcelona’s grip on La Liga

Barcelona have won La Liga for six of the past eight years, but Real Madrid will clinch the title on Sunday by avoiding defeat at Malaga

football Updated: May 21, 2017 08:44 IST
Cristiano Ronaldo (L) has been key to Real Madrid La Liga title quest this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo (L) has been key to Real Madrid La Liga title quest this season.(AFP)

Real Madrid can only throw away a first La Liga title in five years on Sunday with a shock defeat at Malaga as they look set to depose rivals Barcelona’s run as Spanish champions.

Barca have won La Liga for six of the past eight years, but have to beat Eibar at home to have any chance of a third straight title in outgoing coach Luis Enrique’s farewell to the Camp Nou.

“We deserve to be in the position we are just now,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

“It is in our hands which is important for us.

“There is just one game to go and we have worked very hard to get to where we want to be.”

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Since losing to Barca a month ago, Madrid have looked in ominous form as they have charged towards the title by scoring 20 goals in five straight league victories.

“We are top and now, in the last and hardest game, we have to finish the job,” added Zidane.

Having lost just three league games all season it would be a huge shock if 11th-placed Malaga denied Madrid at the final hurdle.

However, Malaga 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.

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Malaga’s commitment towards the game will be under the spotlight after 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 prefered 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 Al-Thani described them on Twitter as “the scum of Catalonia”.

“We are not on trial and we are not going to be proven innocent or guilty,” Michel said on Saturday.

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“I don’t play anymore and my role is limited to being the coach.

“The message to the players has been the same as any other week. We have planned for the same work rate and intensity. The players don’t know any other way.”

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 Camp Nou.

“I am concentrated on getting the three points,” insisted Enrique.

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“If our luck is in then fantastic, if not then we have to congratulate our rivals.”

Enrique has won eight trophies in three largely successful seasons in charge and will have the chance to add a ninth in next weekend’s Copa del Rey final even if Madrid avoid defeat on Sunday.

“Barca’s history is full of moments like this. People come and go,” added Enrique.

“I am very proud to have formed part of that history. I am a privileged one and next season I will be at the Camp Nou for many games as a fan.

“It is not a goodbye, but a see you later.”