Madrid, May 20 (IANS) Real Madrid travel to Malaga on Sunday knowing that a point will make them La Liga champions for 2016-17, giving them their first Spanish football league title in five seasons.
Wednesday’s midweek win over Celta Vigo put Real Madrid three points clear of FC Barcelona going into the last weekend of the campaign, although the Catalan side’s superior head-to-head goal difference would be the deciding factor if the two sides end Sunday level on points, reports Xinhua news agency.
As such a draw in the La Rosaleda Stadium is enough for Madrid to start the celebrations for the first time since 2012 and to tee up a Liga and Champions League double, ahead of the Champions League final on June 3rd.
Forward Gareth Bale and right-back Dani Carvajal are both out injured still, meaning that attacking midfielder Isco will once again play a key role against the side which sold him to Madrid in 2913.
It has been pointed out in the Catalan press that part of the deal that took Isco to Madrid included several incentive clauses — one of which states Madrid would have to pay Malaga an extra million euros for the Spain international if he helped them win a league title, hinting at a conflict of interest nobody could have envisaged four years ago.
The fact that Malaga coach Michel Gonzalez is also a former Madrid player and has spoken of his affection for the club has also been highlighted in Barcelona. Although with the eyes of the world on them and players such as former Barcelona striker Sandro Ramirez and former Atletico Madrid midfielder, Diego Camacho in their ranks, it would be a huge shock if Malaga gave anything less than 100 per cent.
With Real Madrid in their current form that 100 per cent will probably not be good enough. Madrid have not taken their foot off the gas since their home defeat to Barcelona in April and have won their last five matches, scoring four against Granada, Sevilla and Celta into the bargain.
Superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo looks to have found his best form at the right time. And the most likely thing is for Madrid to try and take Sunday’s game by the scruff of the neck and get an early goal, which would not only destroy Malaga’s confidence, but also send a message to Barcelona that whatever they do against Eibar in the Camp Nou stadium, it is not going to be good enough.
This is published unedited from the IANS feed.