REAL MADRID

Real Madrid are fixture positive for title run in with Barcelona

Top of LaLiga with 17 games still to be played, Zindine Zidane must look at the scheduling for the remainder of the season with some optimism.

Real Madrid are fixture positive for title run in with Barcelona
JUAN MEDINA REUTERS

Real Madrid were able to capitalise on Barcelona's loss at Valencia by keeping their nerve and overcoming Valladolid by the single headed goal from Nacho, yet another defensive scoring contribution. The weekend saw Los Blancos move ahead of their bitter rivals in LaLiga and with 17 matches left to play Zinedine Zidane is focusing his side on capturing a title that has evaded the club in all but two seasons of the last 11. With key players close to returning from injury a plus, it would also appear that the schedule is on their side.

Madrid top after tougher first half

With 21 matchdays of 38 already contested, Madrid has ticked off away trips to the Camp Nou, Wanda Metropolitano, Sánchez Pizjuán, Mestalla, La Cerámica, Coliseum Alfonso Pérez... There are eight further trips to come, namely, Osasuna, Levante, Real Betis, Real Sociedad, Espanyol, Athletic, Granada and Leganés.

The two clashes in the Basque Country, those of Anoeta and San Mamés, would likely be the most complicated, while the biggest challenges at the Bernabéu, on paper at least, could be seen as Atlético (this Saturday), and then Barcelona, Valencia, Getafe, and Villarreal. Tough rivals, yes, but with seven wins and three draws at home, 24 of a possible 30 points, and scoring 22 goals with only seven against, they will be confident of holding more than their own. Better than their away record of six wins, four draws and one loss, 22 points out of the 33 possible, with 17 goals and six against.

Schedule positivity | Zinedine Zidane must be pleased to be top after Real Madrid's first half fixtures.

Schedule positivity | Zinedine Zidane must be pleased to be top after Real Madrid's first half fixtures.

The calendar is no guarantee of anything, of course, but the comparison with their main title rivals Barcelona is positive. Messi and co. have to visit Betis, Madrid, Mallorca, Sevilla, Celta, Villarreal, Valladolid and Alavés; three of the current top eight, with Madrid only having one. Add to that Barça's record away from home this campaign, one that has been even less reliable than that of Madrid - four wins, three draws, four losses - and Zidane will now be believing that this could be their year, at last.