A bit surreal, that, after 37 games played, La Liga hasn’t been decided yet. Tomorrow, upon the last fixture, Real Madrid will know it’s fate. It will be till the last day, the last game, and the last breath — perfectly fitting of the way Real Madrid do things. This time tomorrow, Real Madrid will be celebrating if they have a point or more (possibly with zero points too, but we’re not really expecting Barcelona to come away with anything less than three points against Eibar at home), and perhaps leaving it until the last day makes it extra sweet and extra rewarding.
It’s extra nervy, too, that there might not be any reward at all if Malaga win. But as we rehash every week — the good news is it’s in Real Madrid’s hands, and not the other way around. Barcelona, on the flipside, have no fate in their hands but their own — they are victims of fate. For Zidane, going into a do-or-die situation on the last match-day with his full squad and complete hunger to feast on a rare league title can only be a positive. Nothing is ever sure, but at the very least, Real Madrid’s situation heading into this match is quite ideal.
Bale, James, Carvajal, Pepe — they will all travel to Malaga. Even if the chance of them playing is slim, there will be something special about celebrating with your entire squad being there.
All the conspiracy theorists have come out for this one, by the way. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which force overpowers the other — Michel’s ties with Real Madrid; or a briefcase spearheaded by Sandro. Either way, Real Madrid will impose their will and make sure none of that noise matters as they’re the ones who should be dictating the result — not the external cacophonies surrounding them.
No ‘Q&A with the Enemy’ this week, but let’s get you geared up with some pre-game quotes.
Zidane, on the importance of unity and hard work to win the title...
"We know the difficulty of winning LaLiga," Zidane said. "It's very tough. It's 38 matches. You have to show that you want to win every week. The players have been phenomenal and we deserve what we're doing. They're top and have to finish it.
"We're going to go for the win because it's in the DNA of this club. Then we'll see what happens.
"The unity of the team is the key. I've always said that the squad is amazing to see. Everyone is important. The ones who play less have been doing as well as the ones who have done more. We're okay mentally and physically we're f****** great.
"We still haven't won LaLiga. But we have worked a lot and we'll give everything. I'm concentrating only on what I can affect, which is the game."
Addressing the ill-wishers...
"I don't know if everyone wants us to lose, but many do," he said. "But it's always been like that. It doesn't matter. We know that we have to win on the pitch, without giving up.
"A lot of people deserve it but we've worked very well until today. But we still haven't won anything.
"We would have liked to win it earlier but winning this trophy is very nice and it'll go to the very end. We will not give up until the last second."
On Cristiano’s form, and the importance of the support his teammates provide him...
"What Cristiano is doing is amazing and he's in a very sweet moment. He's very happy," Zidane added.
"The success we're having is down to the unity of the team. They deserve it because they've believed in it from the start. They believed in the system and the idea."
Ex-Barcelona forward Sandro making it clear what his intentions are...
"Hopefully I can score and hand the title to Barcelona," he told LaLiga World.
"Hopefully it's a dream day. I owe them [Barca] everything."
"It was really emotional, above all for my parents, when Barcelona came for me after seven years with Las Palmas," he said.
"I had the chance to go to Madrid, but I like Barca more, because I was always a Barca fan. So was my dad. At the time the academy [at Barcelona] counted for a lot."
Malaga president Abdullah Al-Thani packing heat on Twitter...
"God willing [Madrid] will get beaten by us, but the Catalan scum will not get a whiff of the title after the lies they spread about Michel."
Xavi’s predictions for the last match-day...
"It's very difficult for LaLiga to escape Madrid. They're very strong," he told AS. "They have [Toni] Kroos, [Luka] Modric, Isco... players that I like a lot.
"The key game was the one in Vigo and they still won it. Hopefully they lose at Malaga and Barca are champions, but it's tough, frankly.
"Malaga are at a good moment in their season and to win there will be very tough. They have to produce a miracle like Tenerife did so that Barca win LaLiga.
"Defeats [for Barca] like Alaves at home and Deportivo La Coruna away carry a heavy toll and only at the end of the season can you weigh up the overall campaign."
On his hopes for the Champions League final...
"Juventus are very good, too. They're a great side. They've already shown that by knocking out Barcelona and producing a great defensive display," he said.
"I think the final is 50-50. The other day, I heard that Buffon has never won the Champions League. He deserves to win it and the Ballon d'Or."
Unrelated, but former Colombian player Faustino Asprilla didn’t hide his emotion when discussing what went wrong with James at Real Madrid...
"They bought him because he scored in a World Cup, because he can make goals, because he was able to score and because he was able to assist," Asprilla told ESPN.
"They bought him because he was going to turn into a winger. You must play where you know well.
"James isn't a winger, what are you expecting on him? He cannot recover the same amount of balls than that trunk called Casemiro. You simply cannot ask that of a player like James."
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