Ten months of La Liga football come down to one day and two games this Sunday with the odds firmly stacked in Real Madrid’s favour. Los Blancos travel to Andalucía to face Malaga needing just one point to secure their first league title in five years while Barcelona host Eibar at the Camp Nou.
Conspiracy, coincidence, hoodoos and jinxes are swirling around Spain at a vicious pace. Argument and counter-argument. Malaga manager Michel is a Madrid legend – will he clear the way for the club of his heart? Raise the white flag if you will. But what about the cautionary tale of Tenerife? Real handed the title to Barcelona on the final day in 1993 after losing to the Islanders – who were managed by former Madrid player Jorge Valdano. Parallels are everywhere. History can’t repeat itself can it?
Theoretically the task in hand is easy – get at least a draw away at a mid-table side with nothing to play for. Yet that “easy task” has created a colossus of expectation that threatens to come crashing down around them. The flames of the Tenerife affair can’t be fanned. An opening goal for Malaga at La Rosaleda and the impossible becomes the improbable. Then as each minute ticks by the fear and the fire intensify, spreading like wildfire among the weak and infecting the whole team.
Real need leaders then. Luckily for them those they have. Zidane, Ramos and Ronaldo need to step up to the mark. What’s more, they normally do. Score early and the issue is put to bed before it’s begun. Statistics are on their side. Just three league defeats this season, whilst scoring 104 goals over their 37 games for an average of 2.81 goals a game. This team doesn’t have the magic of its predecessors but it has consistency and the unrelenting will to get the job done. The Champion’s League holders are two games away from winning La Liga and becoming the first team to ever defend the European Cup in the modern era.
And all the while this is dependent on Barcelona who have to beat Eibar to make any of this situation a reality. That they should do – despite Eibar’s fantastic campaign – in front of 90,000 Cules who will have one eye firmly fixed on events 600 miles to the south. Praying in a manner that is becoming increasingly common in Catalonia. Anyone remember PSG?
Basically it’s a matter of the head versus the heart. Logic tells you the miracle Barca require is impossible. But that is what they all say beforehand isn’t it?