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LaLiga is red hot after Lionel Messi’s last-minute winner at the Bernabeu.
Five games remain for Luis Enrique to find a way to bow out with a hat trick of title triumphs with Barcelona, while Zinedine Zidane is counting on Real Madrid’s game in hand in their bid for a first title since 2012. Which teams will get in their way?
The league’s bottom club travel to the Camp Nou on Wednesday, with little hope of causing an upset. Jaime Romero, formerly of Real Madrid Castilla is in their ranks, as is the injured Tano. Former Barcelona prospects Fran Merida and Oriol Riera turn out for the Estadio El Sadar outfit, the latter of whom is a friend of Messi’s.
Real Madrid travel to the Estadio Riazor which is occupied by a string of ex-Real names including coach Pepe Mel and Joselu, who has scored against both Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as Mosquera and Juanfran. Former Barcelona player Fernando Navarro turns out for the Galician side.
Valencia beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Estadio Mestalla back in February with goals from Simone Zaza and Fabian Orellana, who had both signed for the club in the January transfer window. Barcelona will hope that former players Munir El Haddadi and Martin Montoya can help Los Che to repeat the feat, as Alvaro Medran, Daniel Parejo and Ezequiel Garay return to the Bernabeu.
The local derby. Barcelona will target their city-neighbours whose ex-Madrid contingent include coach Quique Sanchez Flores. Gerard Pique’s “Marvellous minority” sound bite will not have been forgotten, nor will Raul Tamudo’s strike in 2006 which handed Madrid the title. The Catalonian derby presents a different challenge in the title race.
They will visit the Camp Nou with their European place still to play for, which will come as a big threat to Luis Enrique. The sides drew in the first half of the season, with ex-Madrid players Denis Cheryshev and Roberto Saldado in Villarreal’s ranks. Jonathan Dos Santas was on Barcelona’s books and will look to impress on his return to the Camp Nou.
Real Madrid travel to Granada either side of their Champions League semi-final against Atletico and with the Andalusian side all but down. Tony Adams has three former Barcelona players in his team, with Isaac Cuenca, David Lomban and Sergi Samper plying their trade at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.
Sevilla travel to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu by which time Real will know their European fate. Jorge Sampaoli’s side will have their eyes on third place, with Real Madrid looking for revenge after Sevilla ended their 40-game unbeaten run earlier in the season. Sergio Ramos started his career at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan while ex-Real prospect Pablo Sarabia has impressed there in his debut season with the club.
Perhaps Barcelona’s second-easiest fixture in the run in, Las Palmas are playing for nothing. However, the impressive football seen on the Canary Islands this season will pose Luis Enrique’s side problems – as Zinedine Zidane found out when Real Madrid were held to a draw earlier in the season at the Estadio Gran Canaria. Ex-Real player Jese Rodriguez is on the books there alongside former Barcelona man Alen Halilovic.
Celta and Real Madrid could both be preparing for European finals. Celta must get past Manchester United and may fancy their chances having already knocked out Real in the Copa del Rey this season. This fixture represents Real’s game in hand after originally being postponed due to heavy winds, causing damage to Celta’s Estadio Balaidos on February 4.
Real Madrid’s last game of the season. All to play for? All wrapped up? Malaga coach and Real legend, Michel, will have an influence on the outcome should the title race have not reached its conclusion. The dressing room at the Estadio La Rosaleda has a large ex-Real Madrid contingent, with Juankar, Luis Hernandez, Jose Rodriguez and Diego Llorent on the books.
Eibar will present the final challenge for Barcelona this season. The Estadio Ipurua Municipal outfit could be vying for a European spot themselves, which may cause Luis Enrique and his side a further headache should the title race go down to the final day. Pedro Leon has been in fine form this season and the ex-Madrid man may well help out his former employers with a goal at the Camp Nou.