NINE POINTS ADRIFT AND IN NEED OF A MIRACLE: REAL MADRID KISS LA LIGA GOODBYE



Zinedine Zidane’s side were held to a 1-1
draw at Malaga on Sunday and are now
nine points behind Barcelona in the title
race, leaving the Primera Division out of
reach once again

Real Madrid can kiss goodbye to La Liga
for another year. Zinedine Zidane’s men
dropped two more points in the Primera
Division on Sunday and now need a
miracle to catch Barcelona. It isn’t going
to happen.

Barca beat Las Palmas in a hard-fought
match on Saturday and after their 2-1 win
in Gran Canaria, goalscorer Luis Suarez
said: “These are the games that win you
league titles.”
And 24 hours on, those seemed like wise
words. While Barca came through their
tough test, Madrid flunked theirs with a
1-1 draw at Malaga. It was Zidane’s third
away match in La Liga, all in Andalucia,
and those have yielded one last-ditch win
(at Granada) and two ties (at Betis and
Malaga). Simply not good enough.
Madrid have not won La Liga since Jose
Mourinho’s second season in Spain in
2011-12. The Portuguese’s successor
Carlo Ancelotti then claimed four trophies
including the Champions League, yet failed
to bring back the Primera Division title to
the Santiago Bernabeu in his two
campaigns in charge and there will be no
championship this time around either.
The title triumph in 2011-12 is Madrid’s
only Liga win in the last eight years and in
that same period, Barca have claimed the
Primera Division no less than five times
(three under Pep Guardiola, one with Tito
Vilanova and another coached by Luis
Enrique). And the Catalans are well on
course for a sixth in the current campaign.
Barca lead Madrid by nine points and even
if Real were to draw level, it would be
insufficient unless they were able to thrash
the Blaugrana at Camp Nou in the Clasico
clash in April and overturn the goal
average from their 4-0 loss at home to the
Catalans in November.
With just 13 fixtures remaining, it is
mission impossible and Atletico are also
adrift after the weekend action. Diego
Simeone’s side were held at home by
Villarreal in a goalless game on Sunday
and are now eight points off the top.
Having lost both home and away to Luis
Enrique’s men, they too would need to
beat Barca’s points haul to claim La Liga.
It’s a tough ask to say the least.
For Madrid, it is yet another failure in a
desperately disappointing season. Thrown
out of the Copa del Rey for fielding the
suspended Denis Cheryshev against Cadiz,
Real parted company with Rafa Benitez in
January and Zidane claimed he would
fight for the two trophies on offer.
But several weeks later, only the
Champions League is realistically left and
the team’s troubles in La Liga over recent
seasons represent a sorry state of affairs
for the world’s richest club.
Against Malaga, Cristiano Ronaldo headed
the visitors into the lead and Madrid were
somewhat fortunate because he had been
in an offside position when the Toni Kroos
cross came in. And minutes later, the
Portuguese saw a penalty saved by Carlos
Kameni in a miss that proved to be costly
as Raul Albentosa levelled in the second
period and Real had no reply.
Asked afterwards if La Liga is lost for
Madrid, Zidane said: “Not at all. It will be
difficult because we dropped two points
but we will never give up. There are 39
points left. We had a difficult game and we
could even have lost. You (the journalists)
think La Liga is lost, but neither myself
nor the players think that.”
It was the right message, but surely not
even the most optimistic of fans really
believe this stuttering side can make up 10
points on Barca in the final 13 rounds of
the championship. There is just no way it
will happen.
“We have to be positive because all of the
games we have played up until now have
been phenomenal,” Zidane added.
Whether fans and president Florentino
Perez will agree with that assessment is
unclear, but the truth is the Frenchman
has come in mid-season with limited
coaching experience to try and lift a team
already struggling under Benitez.
That was never ideal and the 43-year-old
needs to be given time to try and turn this
situation around. For now, however, it’s
the same old story for Real Madrid:
another season, another disappointment in
La Liga – and another reason for
Florentino to take a long, hard look at this
faltering project.

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