Madrid to wrap up championship campaign in Spain at Leganes
Madrid clinched their first league title in three seasons on Thursday when they beat Villarreal 2-1
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid will end their championship-winning campaign in the Spanish league on Sunday when they cross the capital to visit a Leganes team that must win to have a chance of avoiding relegation.
Madrid clinched their first league title in three seasons on Thursday when they beat Villarreal 2-1 and second-place Barcelona lost 2-1 at home to 10-man Osasuna. That combination left Madrid seven points ahead with one round remaining.
Leganes may have a caught a lucky break that the title was decided before Madrid comes to their Butarque Stadium.
Leganes trail Celta Vigo by one point and must beat Madrid and hope that Celta don't win at last-place Espanyol.
"It is within our grasp," said the club's Mexican coach, Javier Aguirre, who has kept Leganes in with a chance to stay up despite losing his top two strikers to transfers during the season.
Youssef En-Nesyri was bought by Sevilla in January and Martin Braithwaite was picked by Barcelona outside the official winter window for transfers before the Spanish league stopped from March to June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It has been an exceptional season," Aguirre, a former Atletico Madrid, Osasuna and Espanyol coach, said Saturday.
"We had never paused halfway through a season, been shut in at home. We had never played so many games in such a short time (once play resumed). This accumulation of adversities because of the pandemic and the circumstances of the club make this a very special season.
"We arrive to the last game alive, which is what matters."
Zidane insisted his team would still play to win.
"We want to do things properly and stick together right until the end," Zidane said.
"We're going to rest up, but the season isn't over yet. We're going to be back soon and focus because we've got a crucial game against Manchester City in August."
Madrid will visit City on Aug. 7 to play the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 match after losing the first leg 2-1.
Barcelona visit Alaves with coach Quique Setien under immense pressure to turn his team around before they host Napoli in the Champions League on Aug. 8 in the second leg of the last 16 after a 1-1 draw in Italy.
Madrid will be seeking to finish the league season with an 11th straight win since the competition resumed in June with teams playing every three days.
Zidane said the secret to his team's success in beating Barcelona for their first time since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo was their defense.
"Whenever we speak about the defense, we talk about the goalkeeper, the back four and the backline. And that's not how it works, because in football everyone needs to defend and that applies in attack too," Zidane said. "To win games and trophies we need that and for the players to put in the effort".
A Madrid defense anchored by Thibaut Courtois conceded a competition-low 23 goals, including just four goals in their current 10-game winning streak
The Champions League spots have already been clinched by Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, and Sevilla, with Espanyol and Mallorca relegated to the second tier.
On Friday, Huesca clinched promotion to the first division. Cadiz had already secured promotion.
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