Zinedine Zidane is determined to focus on what his Real Madrid side have to do against Deportivo La Coruna on the final day of the Primera Division season, rather than being drawn into discussing Barcelona’s prospects. Barcelona lead Real Madrid by a single point going into the final round of fixtures meaning, with Barcelona holding the head-to-head advantage, Zidane’s side have to both win at the Riazor and hope that their great rivals fail to claim victory at Granada.
There have been plenty of rumors in recent days that Real Madrid could offer a Granada, already safe from relegation and with nothing to play for, a financial incentive to get a result against the Catalans. The practice is outlawed in Spain, but the payment of bonuses, known as “Maletines,” is known to have gone on in the past. Asked whether such bonuses should be legalized, Zidane had no interest in entering into the discussion.
“I don't know what you're talking about – honestly,” he said, reports Spanish sports daily AS. “I am only focused on what we are going to do tomorrow. I know that this is the last league press conference of the season and that there will be questions asked. All we are focused on is our football and what we want to do tomorrow.
When questioned about whether Granada would be motivated against Barcelona, the Frenchman, who helped Real Madrid to the title in 2003, took a similar tact.
“I'm not going to enter into that,” he added. “All I can tell you is what we are going to do. Tomorrow's game for us is a final, and we have to put in the best game we can to take all three points. That the only thing on our minds. What matters is winning our game tomorrow. Everything else, as always, I'm not going to talk about.”
Zidane has led Real Madrid to 11 successive wins in La Liga to help keep them in the running for a title that looked certain to be heading to Barcelona just six weeks ago. The former Ballon d’Or winner, who took over from Rafa Benitez in January, has also guided Real Madrid to the Champions League final. Still, he insists that all the focus is on trying to win the Spanish title for the first time in four years rather than the meeting with Atlético Madrid in two weeks’ time.
“The game of our lives is tomorrow's, because we will be playing for an important trophy,” he said. “After that we have another important game which we want to win.”
There has been plenty of good news for Real Madrid ahead of their trip to Galicia. Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale look set to return from injuries that kept them out of a 3-2 win over Valencia last weekend. The only injury doubt is now winger Lucas Vazquez.
Like Granada, Deportivo have nothing tangible to play for on the final day, currently sitting 13th in the league standings. They could, though, still rise up the table significantly on the final day given that only three points separates them from eighth place Malaga. And Víctor Sánchez’s side did raise themselves to claim an impressive victory over fourth-placed Villarreal last week.
Prediction: It is difficult to see Real Madrid not completing their part of the title equation on Saturday. Deportivo have lost their last three matches at home, including an 8-0 evisceration at the hands of Barcelona. And the last time Real Madrid visisted the Riazor they came away with an 8-2 win. With Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo back in unison, Real Madrid should ease to a win.
Predicted score: Deportivo La Coruna 0-2 Real Madrid
Kickoff time: 11 a.m. EDT
TV channel: beIN Sports
Live stream: beIN Sports Connect