Competition
  • Copa Libertadores

Reading the future via Zidane's press conferences

Barcelona are counting down the games until they are mathematical champions after they saw off Real Sociedad last night in a game that had a limited amount of talking points. Two more wins will see the Catalan side retain their Laliga crown or a win and a slip-up from Atleti, who yesterday ground out a 0-1 win at Eibar. This will be Barça's title though and a win for Valverde's men at Mendizorroza on Tuesday coupled with a home defeat for Atlético against Valencia will see the curtain come down on the title race. I'm not sure this will materialise but it shows just how close Barça are to claiming another league title. It's worth pointing out that their goals last night came from defenders Lenglet and Jordi Alba which reminded me of the line: 'strikers will win you games but defenders win you league titles', more than apt for what we saw at Camp Nou last night.

Barcelona's Spanish defender Jordi Alba celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Barcelona's Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal

Stay or go

All Real Madrid can do at present is look on with envy from the sideline. Current Zidane press conferences have become akin to a summit for fortune tellers with each question focusing on who is set to leave and potential new recruits at the club. All the French coach reveals is that he has a plan and is working on changing the system. Once again we have an opportunity to see what he has in store as Athletic visit the Bernabéu. It's clear that this season is feeling eternal for the club and that is something felt by fans, employees and even Florentino and Zidane. The worry too is that recent poor performances are blotting the previous immaculate copy-book of the French coach when he announced his departure last year.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

Danger from the North

Athletic are far from ideal opponents today for this Real Madrid side. The appointment of Aitor Elizegi as club president late last year has injected fresh blood into the club and the full-time appointment of Gaizka Garitano has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of a team who were hovering over the relegation zone, to one who are currently fighting for a Europa League place. This Athletic side has all the traditional Athletic hallmarks...playing the game with pace, determination and belief. Iñaki Williams has finally made the step up and seems to have mastered the art of finishing which added to his speed makes him an irresistible proposition for Athletic in attack. A Real Madrid-Athletic Club match is always a wonderful footballing spectacle and the sight of the white shirts against the red and white stripes evokes a wonderful sense of nostalgia. A game I highly recommend watching.