Real Madrid out to clinch La Liga crown in Bilbao
MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) has his own private battle with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for the La Liga top goal-scorer award. AP photoReal Madrid visits Athletic Bilbao tonight knowing a win would give the team its first ‘La Liga’ title in four years, breaking the domination of Barcelona forged by the departing Pep Guardiola.
With three games remaining Madrid’s seven point lead over the Catalans mean one more win is all the team requires, and the trophy would go some way to make up for the disappointment of losing last week’s Champions League semifinal to Bayern Munich.
For Madrid coach Jose Mourinho it would be the fourth country in which he has achieved such a feat, he is currently level on three with Louis van Gaal who includes two titles in Spain with Barca in his personal haul.
Jose seeks 7th title
It would also be an incredible seventh title in 10 seasons for the Portuguese coach who started with two titles in his native country with Porto before going on to win two at both Chelsea and Inter Milan.
To add to the growing list of achievements Madrid needs to win its three remaining games to reach 100 points and break the record set by Guardiola’s Barca in 2009/10 with 99 points.
Mourinho continued his boycott of the Spanish media after Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Sevilla but his assistant Aitor Karanka talked of the potential of winning the league at his former club.
“It would be nice to become champions in San Mames (Bilbao’s stadium), to win the Spanish league is important because it has taken a huge effort to achieve it and it was a big objective of ours, but it does not make up for missing out in the Champions League,” he said.
For its part, Barcelona kicks off against fourth-placed Malaga two hours before and a defeat for Guardiola’s side would hand the title to Madrid before a ball is kicked.
The same scenario, however, was the case last Sunday before Barcelona showed no signs of nerves and recorded a 7-0 away victory at Rayo Vallecano.
Lionel Messi grabbed two goals to go level with Cristiano Ronaldo on 43 league goals meaning the world’s best two players will take their own particular contest to finish as La Liga’s top-scorer to the very end.
Messi also has another prize in sight as he currently has 65 in all competitions, just two short of Gerd Müller’s 67 goal record set in the 1972/73 season for Bayern Munich.