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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s win in Bilbao

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The title race will go down to the final day.

Athletic Club v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It was a wild Sunday evening of LaLiga action, made all the more dramatic thanks to the unified timeslot. There were 23 minutes when Real Madrid were top of the table after they took the lead over Athletic Club, but Atlético Madrid turned things around back in the capital against Osasuna. This means that the title race goes down to the final day, so we have so many questions to answer and others to ask.

Three answers

1. How would the top of the table change over the matchday?

The final two matchdays of the LaLiga season are always especially exciting, because all of the fixtures involving teams fighting for the same objectives are held at the same time. So, how would that be? Well, it meant that Real Madrid led the league for part of the evening. After all the matches kicked off at 18:30 local time, there was no change in either the Real Madrid game or the Atlético game until 19:57 when Nacho scored. Then, for the next 23 minutes, until 20:20 when Luis Suárez scored, Real Madrid led the way. But, Atleti inched back in front by the end of the day and Real Madrid need them to slip up in Valladolid next weekend.

2. Would Zidane repeat his front line?

Given how well Real Madrid played on Thursday against Granada and given how well they started that match, would Zidane start the same front line of Benzema, Rodrygo and Vinícius? He doesn’t usually start Rodrygo twice in a row. Only five times this season had Rodrygo started the match after a previous start. But, this was the sixth. Zidane did go for the same attacking trio. It wasn’t as effective in Bilbao as against Granada, which makes sense since Granada have LaLiga’s worst defence and Athletic have the sixth-best defence. But, Nacho came up big when the attackers weren’t having much luck, earning Real Madrid the win.

3. Would Real Madrid be fatigued from their long Thursday night?

After the Granada game, Real Madrid had to return home via the airport of Málaga and didn’t get back to the capital until after 4am on the Friday morning. They then had one day less rest compared to Athletic Club, who had most recently played on the Wednesday, so would Real Madrid be more fatigued than the Basques? Well, not really. Real Madrid dominated most of the game and didn’t seem to tire. They finished the game at a slower pace, but that was more so because they had the lead and because they wanted to keep the ball. Somehow, Real Madrid always find an extra drop of energy. And this week they’ll have a full seven days off.

Three questions

1. Is Miguel Gutiérrez in the first-team squad next season?

Marcelo was back and, even if he wasn’t 100 percent fit, he still made the trip and was available to Zidane for this game. But, the coach preferred to play 19-year-old Miguel Gutiérrez for the entire 90 minutes and Marcelo didn’t play a single minute. This might be partly because of the Brazilian’s recent injury, but it might also be as simple as Zidane preferring the teenager over the veteran at this point in time. So, what does the future hold? Does Miguel Gutiérrez earn a full promotion to the first-team squad for 2021/22? Was this Marcelo’s second-last match with Real Madrid?

2. Will Mateu Lahoz referee the Champions League final like this?

This was not a good game from Antonio Mateu Lahoz. Sometimes he can be a great referee. Sometimes not. And this wasn’t one of his better games. The Jon Morcillo handball incident looked like a clear penalty and, to be fair, the fault for that no-call lies more with the VAR room than with the on-field referee. But, there were several other incidents that Mateu Lahoz didn’t handle well, gradually losing control of the game. There was a possible penalty from Yeray on Benzema and then there was the straight red card he flashed to Raúl García when a yellow and a word could have sufficed. Let’s hope, for the sake of the spectacle, that Mateu Lahoz has a better showing in Porto in the Champions League final.

3. Can Real Madrid change their final matchday history?

If Real Madrid are to win this league title then they’ll have to do something they have never done before. They have never won the title when they entered the final day in second position. On 10 occasions, they have reached the final matchday in second place and with mathematical possibilities of finishing top. In 1933/34, 1934/35, 1935/36, 1952/53, 1959/60, 1965/66, 1980/81, 1983/84, 2009/10 and 2015/16. 11th time lucky?