90 minutes to La Liga glory

Published: May 11, 2016
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The La Liga is Europe’s strongest league over the past five seasons as per UEFA’s league coefficient rankings. PHOTO: SPORTSKEEDA

For me personally, there is only one thing worse than watching either Barcelona or Real Madrid lift the La Liga trophy and that is to watch any one of these clubs winning a rather predictable two-horse race of a league at a canter.

It’s like watching a glorified Scottish Premier League. For “Los Merengues and Els Blaugrana” read “hyped-up Celtic and Rangers”.

With the notable exception of 2013-14 Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone, a Rafa Benitez led Valencia in 2001-2002 and 2003-2004, and Deportivo La Coruña once at the start of the current millennium, no team other than Real and Barca has won the Spanish first division title in the last 20 years.

And once again we have just got the two Spanish heavyweights punching it out for the La Liga trophy but with a slight twist attached. Luckily, for all of us who are simply sick and tired of this footballing duopoly, the fact that this particular race to the finish is going down to the wire is a consolation of sorts.

In the past two decades, a majority of Spanish league titles have been won in a completely one-sided fashion. But fortunately, we have now entered the last week of the Spanish campaign and both the blue-chip clubs are still in with a shout.

On Sunday, both Real Madrid and Barcelona ensured that the last match-day of the current Spanish league season does not prove to be an unnecessary formality as the Galácticos squeaked 3-2 past Valencia to stay a whisker behind Blaugrana who trounced local rivals Espanyol 5-0 at the Camp Nou to stay atop the table by a solitary point.

Cristiano Ronaldo (right) was in fine form for Real and netted twice during the 3-2 victory over Valencia.
Photo: Getty Images

The weekend however threw up its fair share of surprises with bottom club Levante knocking Atletico Madrid out of the title race with a 2-1 victory.

Atletico Madrid’s players cut dejected figures after crashing out of the title race with a defeat by Levante
Photo: Getty Images

Levante won for just the eighth time in La Liga this season.
Photo: Getty Images

Both the Spanish giants have now navigated their way through 37 games, scoring 217 goals between them but it will be the last 90 minutes of the season that will decide who lands the league trophy.

On Saturday, in a simultaneous kick-off, both Real and Barca will be on the road. With the former travelling to Riazor to face Deportivo La Coruña while the latter being hosted by Granada.

The pair of Granada and Deportivo are both safe so only have pride to play for.

With 11 wins in a row, the capital club is expected to cruise past mid-table Deportivo, likely causing considerable consternation in Catalonia.

But the Catalans are also in formidable form. In the last four matches, Luis Enrique’s side has scored 21 goals without reply, including 11 from former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Barcelona cruised past Catalan rivals Espanyol, with Luis Suarez netting his 55th and 56th goals of the season.
Photo: Getty Images

History is also on the league leader’s side as Barcelona has never lost the lead on the final day of the season.

Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane, however insists his side can snatch the La Liga trophy away from their bitter rivals in what is set to be a dramatic final day showdown.

“I am always positive. Now we are second, there is one game to go and anything can happen,” remarked Zidane.

“In football you never know what can happen. We need to be aware of that, give our all until the end and see what happens.”

With titles already wrapped in all the leading football leagues in Europe, this Saturday the eyeballs of every football fanatic would be on La Liga to watch the climax of what has comfortably been the most fiercely-contested domestic competition all across the continent.

Even a boringly expected two-horse can be thrilling, but only if it ends in a photo finish!

Who do you think will come out on top in the battle for La Liga trophy?

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Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.