Real Madrid presses for Barcelona slip-up in Spanish league
Both Madrid and Barcelona are in the Champions League semifinals
With the Spanish league season nearing its end, Real Madrid can only wait for Barcelona to falter.
Barcelona leads the league by two points, and is also in the Copa del Rey final. Both Madrid and Barcelona are in the Champions League semifinals.
“Our strategy is clear,” Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said after Madrid’s 4-2 win at Celta Vigo on Sunday. “If we win all our matches, we force them to have to win all of theirs.”
However, Madrid has tough matches at Sevilla and Valencia to come, while Barcelona’s toughest challenge will be at Atletico Madrid.
Here are some things to know about this week’s matches:
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez replaced injured Madrid striker Karim Benzema and has rapidly won over fans by scoring the lone goal that knocked Atletico out of the Champions League. He then scored twice against Celta.
Ancelotti said Hernandez has “suffered” by not being selected often, and praised his persistence.
“If Chicharito continues to play like this, he’ll be non-negotiable, like Cristiano (Ronaldo),” Ancelotti said. “But only 11 can play and the rest have to remain on the bench.”
Hernandez said he had “gone through a bad time” while on the bench, but was determined to make the most of his chance in the squad.
“I’m focused on playing the maximum amount of minutes for the best team in the world,” the Mexico forward said.
If Benzema is fit for Wednesday’s match against 17th-place Almeria - a team fighting to remain above the relegation zone - Ancelotti must chose which striker to deploy.
Diego Simeone will celebrate his 200th match as coach of Atletico in Wednesday’s match at Villarreal.
Simeone, who has so far steered Atletico to 126 wins and five titles, has been getting help from the in-form attacking partnership of Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic.
“I am enjoying myself right now,” Griezmann said after scoring two goals during Atletico’s 3-0 win over Elche on Saturday.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique’s main concern ahead of Tuesday’s home match against 13th-place Getafe is the absence of suspended defender Jordi Alba.
Barcelona drew 0-0 in its last league outing against Getafe.
The squad is bolstered by the return of midfielder Rafinha from injury, and Enrique will likely retain his three-pronged attack of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.