Real Madrid can win the Spanish title before facing Man City

BARCELONA, April 28 (AFP) Carlo Ancelotti will have to make a decision when Espanyol comes to town on Saturday.

The Real Madrid coach can play with his best players to have the best chance of wrapping up La Liga, or he can focus on the Champions League semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday.

Real Madrid need just one point from their remaining five games to win the record-breaking 35 league title, so Ancelotti will be tempted to give his reserves a chance to shine while minimizing early injury risks for a key player.

The seemingly simple Ancelotti should know better than anyone the best option. After all, the 62-year-old Italian is on the cusp of becoming the only coach to win Europe’s five major championship titles.

He led Milan to the 2004 Serie A title, Chelsea to the 2010 English Premier League title, Paris Saint-Germain to the 2013 French title and Bayern Munich to the 2017 Bundesliga title.

And if Real Madrid can make up for their 4-3 loss to City when Pep Guardiola and his players visit Madrid, Ancelotti will win one of his fourth European Cup title.

Villarreal, Spain’s other player in the Champions League semi-finals, plays in Alaves on Saturday. With Villarreal in seventh place, coach Unai Emery is likely to rest his senior players before hosting Liverpool on Tuesday 2-0 down after the first leg.

Ancelotti’s recipe for success this season has been sticking with his best players and keeping a very short rotation. But with the title looming and City imminent, this weekend seems like an ideal time to let 36-year-old Luka Modric and 34-year-old Karim Benzema take a break.

Benzema is running the Ballon d’Or season. The French striker has 41 goals in 41 games overall. He leads La Liga with 25 goals, and scored eight goals in the Champions League knockout stages, including two at City Stadium on Tuesday. When he was not on the field, Real Madrid suffered.

The team’s only setback in the league in 2022 was a 4-0 loss to Barcelona when Benzema was absent through injury.

But Ancelotti could leave him on the bench and start one of his reserves – a group that includes the abused Gareth Bale.

Espanyol beat Real Madrid 2-1 in October. But the Barcelona-based club has not won in Madrid since April 1996. Even if Espanyol manage to produce a surprise, Madrid will still have four more games to take the title ahead of Barcelona and Seville.

Espanyol have lost all six of their league matches on the road this year, losing 1-0 at home to Rayo Vallecano last week.

But Espanyol midfielder Yangel Herrera said his side could be surprised by the surprise and postpone the Madrid celebrations.

“We will compete perfectly against Real Madrid,” Herrera said. “We have already beaten them in the first match against them this season, and we have to go out and enjoy this match.”

“We want to give the fans something to be happy with, and change the feeling we left in the last match. We have a nice opportunity, a nice place to play, and we want to compete and enjoy ourselves.” Real Madrid are playing like champions in waiting for several weeks after their closest rivals have destroyed themselves.

Barcelona had a glimmer of hope after their defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, but was embarrassed by their home defeats by Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano. Eintracht Frankfurt’s loss in the Europa League and Barcelona losing three consecutive times in all competitions in the same season add up for the first time ever at the Camp Nou.

Now the team coached by Xavi Hernandez must ensure a fourth place in the first place and a Champions League berth to avoid another blow to the club’s reputation and the weakness of its finances. Atletico Madrid are trailing in fourth by two points, but Real Betis and Real Sociedad are within walking distance.

Barcelona’s first goal on Sunday when they host Mallorca will be to win back their disgruntled fans, who booed the team after last weekend’s loss to Rayo.

Sevilla, who host Cadiz on Friday, had the most realistic chance of giving Madrid a run for the title in the second half of the season, but suffered a dip that shattered their chances.

Atletico visit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday in need of maintaining a four-point lead over Betis, newly crowned Copa del Rey champions. (AFP) Ah ah

(Photo: AP)

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