Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez has said that Real Madrid have all but secured the La Liga title ahead of the last round of matches in the league.
Los Blancos won 4-1 at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo in midweek, defeating Celta Vigo convincingly in their game-in-hand to put themselves three points clear at the top of the league table.
The final set of fixtures sees Zinedine Zidane’s men visit Malaga in what is expected to be a tough match, while Luis Enrique’s side will host Eibar at the Camp Nou.
For the Catalan giants to win the title, they have to defeat their Basque rivals and hope that Malaga do them a favour and defeat Real Madrid. In case of a tie, the Blaugrana will win the title, as they have a better head-to-head record.
Speaking to AS, Xavi said, “It’s very difficult for LaLiga to escape Madrid. They’re very strong. They have [Toni] Kroos, [Luka] Modric, Isco… players that I like a lot.”
He added, “The key game was the one in Vigo and they still won it. Hopefully, they lose at Malaga and Barca are champions, but it’s tough, frankly.”
Malaga are at a good moment in their season and to win there will be very tough. They have to produce a miracle like Tenerife did so that Barca win LaLiga,” the Spaniard added.
Just one point away from the promised land, Real Madrid’s squad has never been more determined to win the title than this season.
It has been five seasons Jose Mourinho last brought the league trophy to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, famously earning 100 points.
In fact, there are currently 16 first team stars who have never tasted La Liga glory.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo are still at club from the 2011/12 season, while Alvaro Morata has since returned.
For Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal, Isco, Marco Asensio, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas, Nacho, James Rodriguez, Casemiro, Mateo Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez, Danilo, Kiko Casilla, Mariano and Ruben Yanez, it would be a first.
There are some who have tasted success in other countries, while all, except for Morata, have won the Champions League.
Kroos won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and James Rodriguez the Primeira Liga with Porto.
When asked where his former side might have lost the league title, 37-year-old Xavi said, “Defeats [for Barca] like Alaves at home and Deportivo La Coruna away carry a heavy toll and only at the end of the season can you weigh up the overall campaign.”
Real Madrid are also on track to win the Champions League when they take on Juventus in the final.
When asked about that, Xavi said, “Juventus are very good, too. They’re a great side. They’ve already shown that by knocking out Barcelona and producing a great defensive display.”
He concluded by saying, “I think the final is 50-50. The other day, I heard that Buffon has never won the Champions League. He deserves to win it and the Ballon d’Or.”