It all began with the Galicians. Real Madrid’s renaissance was triggered the day Zinedine Zidane hammered Deportivo La Coruña 5-0 at the Bernabéu in what was his first game in charge. Now, Los Blancos travel to Galicia in the unlikely hopes of being crowned La Liga winners come Saturday evening.
Here we are – fighting for the title in the last league match and all that comes to the minds of many of us is ‘Allez Zizou’! 16 out of 19 wins in La Liga. 50 out of 57 points. 61 goals scored and a mere 19 conceded. And to top it all off, the Frenchman remains humble and simply reverts the praise onto the players. "But it's the players who have gifted us everything. Above all, I'm happy with the players, with my staff and with the fans."
With only one match left and FC Barcelona in front by a single point, Real Madrid must beat Deportivo and hope that the footballing Gods prevent Barcelona from winning away at Granada. While celebration seems improbable, Zidane’s men must nonetheless take to the pitch on Saturday and record a 12th successive win – a new club record.
Having already guaranteed safety (just as Granada have), Depor will be able to play an attacking football with freedom, which will likely result in a match with a few goals. Víctor Sánchez’s men will be hopeful that they can score given Madrid’s recent defensive lapses, which has seen them concede in five out of their last six matches on the road.
The last time Deportivo hosted Madrid, Los Blancos ran out 8-2 winners, with Cristiano Ronaldo having scored a hat-trick and Gareth Bale a double. That was also the match where our beloved Mexican Chicharito scored this amazing volley. With Depor having conceded at least once in their last ten league home games, Ronaldo and co. will be convinced that they can add misery to what is already the Galician’s side worst run at home in La Liga history.
Still, few Madrid fans will deny that the Riazor is one of Real’s most feared stadiums. Zidane, ironically, never won there as a player. In fact, Real Madrid lost on six successive occasions when traveling to north-west of the Iberian peninsula, and will thus surely play with determination and the utmost of concentration knowing that a win, and only a win, is needed.
Keylor Navas, Pepe, and Luka Modrić are all set to return from injuries which had seen them miss out last weekend’s intense 3-2 win over Valencia. Lucas Vázquez, albeit in Zidane’s squad, will remain sidelined with a sprained knee.
"We do still have faith," Zidane remarked. "Why not? We have won 11 straight games and we are just one point behind. We will believe in our chances until the final second." Per Bet365, Granada is priced at 10/1 to claim a draw against the current La Liga leaders. This however, has been a year of surprises and shocks. Leicester were priced at 2000/1 to win the Premier League. Madrid’s season was destined to end in failure by the end January. FC Barcelona were widely expected to claim a second successive Champions League Crown.
Yet, here we are. Some say hope dies last, but I myself believe that being an optimist feels better. No matter the outcome, we mustn’t forget that we are in the run for two trophies, and as Mike has reminded us, let’s enjoy it all.
And who knows, we may even get to visit Cibeles twice in the next couple of weeks.
Deportivo possible lineup: Manu; Pablo, Arribas, Sidnei, Navarro; Cartabia, Fajr, Bergantiños, Mosquera, Cani; Lucas
Real Madrid possible lineup: Navas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Isco, Modrić; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale
Managing Madrid staff predictions:
- Om – Deportivo 1 – 3 Real Madrid; Granada 0 – 5 FC Barcelona
- Andrejs – Deportivo 0 – 3 Real Madrid; Granada 1 – 2 FC Barcelona
- Lucas – Deportivo 0 – 2 Real Madrid; Granada 0 – 4 FC Barcelona
- Kiyan – Deportivo 1 – 2 Real Madrid; Granada 2 – 2 FC Barcelona
- Mike – Deportivo 0 – 3 Real Madrid; Granada 1 – 0 FC Barcelona
- Timm – Deportivo 1 – 3 Real Madrid; Granada 3 – 3 FC Barcelona
- Nate – Deportivo 1 – 4 Real Madrid; Granada 1 – 1 FC Barcelona