As the spring sunshine beams across the country, the race for the Spanish title is really hotting up too. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the big two squaring off for La Liga glory, with Real firmly in the driving seat with around ten games to go. Sevilla are still in with a shout, but are probably too far back now and need Los Galacticos to lose three games to have a realistic chance. Can Real finally land their first title since Jose Mourinho’s team of 2012?
Real’s next La Liga game on 2 April is a trip to new boys Leganes, who have picked up just six wins from their first 28 games. Asier Garitano’s team were beaten 3-0 at The Bernabeu back in November and didn’t win any of their first seven games of 2017. After what’s expected to be a routine win against the Madrid-based club, Real have the much more daunting task of the visit of Madrid neighbours Atletico. They may be more than ten points behind the leaders, but Atletico are still a formidable team in defence and would love to take points off their fiercest rivals to dent their title hopes for which they are still favourites at 33/100. Real beat them 3-0 in November but Diego Simeone’s charges won this fixture just over a year ago.
Sandwiched between Real’s Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich is a visit to Sporting Gijon, a team seemingly doomed to relegation and without a league win in 2017. Zinedine Zidane’s team beat then 2-1 earlier this season and expect the manager to rest key players in this one. If the clash with Barcelona on 23 April wasn’t always big enough, it now becomes monumental and a potential title decider between La Liga’s top two. The two titans drew 1-1 at the Nou Camp in December, thanks to Sergio Ramos’ late leveller, but Barca only have to go back to December 2015 for their last win at The Bernabeu – a thumping 4-0 victory it was, too.
The games will come thick and fast following what’s sure to be a bruising clash with Barcelona. Real required another late goal from Sergio Ramos to get the better of Deportivo in December, scraping a 3-2 win, so the visit of Pepe Mel’s struggling team should be treated with some caution. So, too, the arrival of Valencia in Madrid at the end of April. It was Los Che that surprisingly beat them 2-1 earlier this season and with little else to play for, Valencia know the pressure will be on Madrid to pick up a win. May begins with Real going to Granada, another team in the drop zone, and one that Zidane masterminded a 5-0 win over in January. Sevilla are next up, a team still in the hunt for a Champions League spot and one of only two La Liga teams to have beaten Real this season. The title may be beyond Sevilla come this point, so spoiling the Madrid party could be the next best option for them. The final game of the league season is at Malaga, with Zidane hoping the title is already in the bag by this time.
As the final games count down, Madrid fans are daring to dream of their first title in five years, especially with Barcelona scooping three leagues in that time. Zidane knows all about La Liga success with Madrid, having won the title as a player with the club in 2003, and could be about to get his hands on the trophy once again.