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Real sets its sights on rare double

REAL Madrid is two games away from a feat it hasn’t achieved in almost six decades: Winning the UEFA Champions League and the Spanish league in the same year.

A draw in Malaga this weekend and a victory against Juventus in Cardiff next month would give Real its first double since 1958, when Raymond Kopa and Alfredo Di Stefano were leading the team.

The team had a shot at the double last season, but failed in the home league and triumphed in the UCL.

Last season, it depended on Barcelona to falter in the final round, but this time it has the title in its own hands. The make-up victory at Celta Vigo on Wednesday left Real a point away from winning the title for the first time in five years.

“We have to focus only on Sunday’s game, we have to win it to become the champions,” said Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored twice in the 4-1 win in Vigo. “After that we will have 13 days to prepare well to try to win the Champions League final.”

Real has been dominant from the start of the season, being in front for most of the league. “We need to keep doing what we have been doing so far because the title hasn’t been decided yet,” manager Zinedine Zidane said.

Malaga could be tricky because it has been in strong form recently. Although it is only 11th in the standings, Malaga has won four of its last five matches. At the Rosaleda, it has won four in a row, beating Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, and Celta.

“Malaga is a good team, but we are Real Madrid and we have to show that we are the better team and that we want to be the champions,” Ronaldo said.

Real last won a double in 2014, but it was with the UCL and the Copa del Rey. Barcelona achieved the treble in 2009 and 2015. It also won a UCL-La Liga double in 2011.

Real has won two UCL titles in the last three seasons, but it hasn’t been successful in La Liga since 2012. It is trying to avoid its biggest title drought in the league since the 1980s.

Barcelona’s hopes of a third straight title depend on it beating mid-table Eibar at the Camp Nou on Sunday and Real losing in Malaga.

Third-place Atletico and fourth-place Sevilla have already guaranteed a place in the UCL next season, although Sevilla will have to go through a playoff in August to enter the group stage.

Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are still fighting for the two Europa League spots, with Villarreal and Athletic ahead and depending on themselves over the weekend. Villarreal will play at Valencia, and Real Sociedad visits Celta. Athletic plays at Atletico in what will be the last league game at Vicente Calderon Stadium before the hosts move into a new venue.

Granada, Osasuna, and Sporting Gijon have already been relegated.


 

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