Spain’s two biggest clubs do battle for the title as La Liga goes right down to the wire in Saturday’s games, with the champions at Granada and Real away to Deportivo La Coruna
The time has come. Barcelona and Real Madrid are all set for a dramatic day as La Liga is decided on Saturday. After 37 rounds of action in the Primera Division, only one point separates the two teams – and the title will be won after what promises to be a tense finale.
Barcelona lead La Liga with 88 points, one more than Madrid, going into the 38th and final round of matches. So a victory for Luis Enrique’s side in Granada and the Blaugrana will be champions again – for the sixth time in eight seasons. If they lose or draw, however, Los Blancos can win it by beating Deportivo La Coruna at Riazor.
“We are really excited about winning this league and about playing a great game,” Luis Enrique said on Friday ahead of the trip to Granada. “It’s a difficult match because of the tension, even though it depends on us. We will approach it like we did the previous 37.”
Barca could still win a domestic double this term as they face Sevilla in the final of the Copa del Rey next Sunday at the Vicente Calderon, but Luis Enrique said: “For me there’s only one final: the one against Granada. After that we will talk about the Copa.”
With the title at stake, there has been all the usual talk in Spain about possible incentive payments by the big teams as a means of motivating their rivals on the final day of the season – even if none of that has been proved.
“I don’t have to talk about that topic,” Luis Enrique said. And asked about how Granada and Deportivo (both safe from relegation and with nothing but pride to play for) would act, he responded: “I would put my hand in the fire for [the honesty of] all the professionals. If is there is proof on the contrary, I will get burnt and remove my hand.”
Barca lost 1-0 at Granada in April 2014 in a defeat that badly hit their hopes of winning La Liga that season. However, that side started with Jose Pinto in goal, Martin Montoya at right-back, Sergio Busquets in central defence and Alex Song in midfield, while Lionel Messi had his problems through injuries and Neymar was struggling to adapt.
Luis Enrique was not at the club then, but arrived in the summer after Barca missed out on the Primera Division to Atletico, bringing in Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Claudio Bravo, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jermey Mathieu among others to build a significantly stronger side that went on the win the treble in 2014-15 and is now on the verge of retaining La Liga this term.