Los Merengues Livin’ La Vida Loca In La LigaStats
Celta Vigo v Real Madrid
Real Madrid travel to Celta Vigo on Sunday night aiming to return to the summit of the La Liga table with games running out for them to catch leaders Barcelona.
A run of of only one defeat in five, during which they’ve conceded only three times, and two wins on the spin in their most recent games, including a 6-1 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano in their last home tie, have all but guaranteed Celta Vigo their top flight status for next season.
Currently tenth, Eduardo Berizzo’s charges will be content with their performance this term although how their manager fends off complacency now they are likely to be too far adrift of the European places – trailing Villarreal in sixth by ten points – will be a significant challenge.
Joaquin Larrivey is the club’s top scorer in La Liga this season with 11 goals to his name, with Nolito two further behind having struck the only goal of the game against Eibar last week.
Real will have been relieved to get a sizeable monkey off their backs by earning a first victory in eight attempts against city rivals Atletico in the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek, when Javier Hernandez’s late strike was the only goal scored over two legs.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have now won five and drawn one of their last six games and kept clean sheets in four of their last five to bring an end to the blip which saw them suffer three defeats in four in March.
Los Merengues are now two points adrift of Barca with six games remaining.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had another incredible season in front of goal with 39 goals in La Liga to lead Lionel Messi by four in the race for Spain’s Pichichi award.
Defender Carles Planas is expected to miss out again for the hosts while long-term absentee Borja Oubina is also sidelined but they have no new injury concerns reported ahead of the game.
The pivotal trio of playmaker Luka Modric and the attackers Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are still missing for Real and while Hernandez is expected to keep his spot up front it remains to be seen if Ancelotti will put Sami Khedeira back in the starting XI after the German was left on the bench for their Champions League victory.
Ronaldo struck all three goals of the contest when the pair met at the Bernabeu earlier this season for Real’s fifth win in seven in this fixture although Celta have won two of the last three on their own patch and proved a tough nut to crack for Real at the Baladios since returning to the top flight in 2012.
With Barcelona on song it looks as though Real may need to win each of their games between now and the end of the season to have any chance of lifting the title and they should do just that at 6/10.
Los Merengues’ recent defensive resilience should serve them well too against a side who generally don’t concede often but lack potency so both teams not to score looks somewhat overpriced at 7/5 while a Real win to nil is an offer too good to refuse at 11/5.