Real out to clinch La Liga crown in Bilbao

01 May 2012 12:46

Real Madrid visit Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday knowing a win would give them their 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 they require, and the trophy would go some way to make up for the disappointment of losing last week's Champions League semi-final 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.

It would also be an incredible seventh championship 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 need to win their three remaining games to reach 100 points and break the record set by Guardiola's Barca in 2009/10 when they got 99 points to beat Madrid by three, then led by Manuel Pelligrini.

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 their part, Barcelona kick-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 Muller's 67 goal record set in the 1972/73 season for Bayern Munich.

Other issues to be resolved include the two remaining Champions League and Europa League places.

Valencia and Malaga are in the driving seat for the bigger prize, on 55 points they are both three ahead of Levante.

Any slip-up for Malaga at Barca or Valencia at home to Osasuna, themselves only a point from a Europa League place, could be capitalised on by Levante who go to relegation threatened Zaragoza on Wednesday.

The side from Aragon are facing the drop along with Sporting Gijon, both teams are on 34 points, four from Villarreal and five from Granada with bottom club Racing Santander already relegated.

Villarreal are the visitors to Sporting Gijon on Tuesday for a decisive clash no team can afford to lose.

Sporting's Croatian centre-forward Mate Bilic, a key player in their revival of recent weeks, is under no illusions as to the importance of the game.

"It's been a difficult year but all that matters now is survival.

"It's complicated but if we beat Villarreal we'll have a chance. They have World Cup winners in their team so it will be difficult, but our fans will play a big part and we owe it to them to get the win," he said.

Fixtures (all times GMT)


Getafe v Racing Santander (1000), Granada v Espanyol (1600) Sporting Gijon v Villarreal (1800)


Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad (1600), Mallorca v Rayo Vallecano (1800), Zaragoza v Levante (1800), Sevilla v Real Betis (1800), Barcelona v Malaga (1800), Valencia v Osasuna (2000), Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid (2000)

Source: AFP

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Last updated : 08:44