Real Madrid head to Celta Vigo tonight looking to push themselves ahead of rivals Barcelona in the battle for the LaLiga title.
Here, we take a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the clash at Balaidos.
REAL CAN’T AFFORD AN OFF DAY
With both Real and Barca locked on 87 points, it is the better head-to-head record which is keeping Luis Enrique’s men currently one step ahead. However, should Real pick up at least a point against Celta, then the destiny of the championship would be back in their own hands as they prepare to head to Malaga for Sunday’s finale.
Suffer an unexpected defeat, though, and it would be Barcelona back on course to lift the title when Eibar visit the Nou Camp.
WILL ZIDANE’S MEN ALREADY HAVE AN EYE ON CARDIFF?
Given the effort his squad put in to see of city rivals Atletico and book their place in the Champions League final, there could be some already allowing themselves to dream of defending their European crown against Juventus at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on June 3.
There were, however, no signs of any lack of focus as Real swept aside Sevilla 4-1 last weekend – and given the strong rhetoric of their head coach, you should not expect any complacency at Balaidos either, as Zinedine Zidane declared: “We don’t feel like champions. We are not going to relax and we have not won anything.”
JAMES RODRIGUEZ IS GOING NOWHERE, FOR NOW…
Much was made of both James Rodriguez’s applause to the fans as he was substituted during Real’s final match at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday as well as his absence from training ahead of the Celta game – with reports circulating that the Colombian was set for a big-money summer move to Manchester United.
Zidane, though, played down there was an ulterior motive when tackled by the media, insisting the player was “with us” but had been nursing a “heavy blow” to his foot before adding: “We are only thinking about the three final (games) that we have got coming up.”
Anyone ready to ask ZZ again after the Champions League final could get a very different answer.
DO CELTA HAVE ONE LAST HURRAH LEFT?
While Real are in sublime form, Celta come into the match on the back of the disappointment of Europa League defeat in the semi-finals against Manchester United and not having recorded a victory in LaLiga since April when they beat struggling Granada 3-0 away. Six of their previous seven matches have ended in a loss.
The club issued an emotional open letter to supporters the day after the end of their European adventure which pledged to “carry on together, let’s keep on dreaming”. Coach Eduardo Berizzo sees no better occasion than Wednesday night’s high-profile encounter to produce the required response by “demanding a great performance to pay back our fans in the stands”.
Celtistas may well, as the club letter says, “make room for pride and hope” – but even for the most-hardened of supporters, and indeed Barca fans everywhere, turning over the mighty Real Madrid may just be one dream too many. Then again, they all said the Copa del Rey tie earlier this season was only going to have one winner…