Zidane optimistic of pulling off a Real heist on Barcelona

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema scores their second goal against Valencia on Sunday. Real won the La Liga clash 3-2 to set up a chance to overtake league leaders Barcelona on the final day of the league competition next Saturday.
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema scores their second goal against Valencia on Sunday. Real won the La Liga clash 3-2 to set up a chance to overtake league leaders Barcelona on the final day of the league competition next Saturday. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he believes his side can snatch the La Liga title away from Barcelona in a tense final-day showdown this Saturday.

Barca hold a one-point lead over Real and will retain their title with a victory at Granada next weekend after thrashing Espanyol 5-0 last Sunday.

However, Real moved up to second place for the first time this year with a 3-2 win over Valencia, their 11th consecutive La Liga victory, while their Champions League final opponents Atletico Madrid's title challenge ended after they lost 2-1 at relegated Levante.

Victory at Deportivo La Coruna this weekend, coupled with a Barca slip-up, will see Real clinch the championship in dramatic fashion.

Said Zidane: "I am always positive. Now we are second, there is one game to go and anything can happen.

"In football, you never know what can happen. We need to be aware of that, give our all until the end and see what happens.

"The first part is our part. It won't be an easy game and we know that."

The French great has masterminded a dramatic turnaround in Real's fortunes since replacing the sacked Rafael Benitez in January.

They have won 20 of their 25 games since he took charge, pushing Barca all the way in the title race, and progressing to just their second Champions League final since Zidane scored the winner as a player in 2002.

The Catalans will not buckle under the pressure though as they seek their 24th league title, vowed manager Luis Enrique.

Barca have scored 21 goals without reply in a four-game winning run since last month, when they inexplicably lost three league games in a row for the first time in 13 years.

Said Enrique: "We believe in how we are playing and I hope we are complete and precise enough to win the league. We are going to play for a league of 38 games in one match. There will be tension, Real Madrid and ourselves are in the same situation of playing away from home and having to win.

"The prize is there and it is attractive enough that we will all be very motivated."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Zidane optimistic of pulling off a Real heist on Barcelona'. Print Edition | Subscribe