Real celebrate as Barca bid farewellComment on this story
Madrid – Real Madrid travel to Granada on Saturday with celebrations in full swing after clinching their 32nd league title, while Barcelona fans will say goodbye to Pep Guardiola in their final home game against Espanyol.
Jose Mourinho's Madrid side beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 on Wednesday to start the festivities in the capital, with Real bringing Barca's recent dominance to an end with their first championship since 2008.
It has been a remarkable story for the Portuguese coach, who has now claimed titles in Portugal, England and Italy, as well as Spain, and Mourinho is in no doubt over which has been the toughest.
“This has been the hardest and no-one has given us an inch during the season,” he said.
“It has been crazy how many points we have managed to pick up. We have played football of a very high quality and now we can enjoy what we have achieved.”
Mourinho arrived at Real in 2010 with the unenviable task of wresting the title back from a Barca side that has been described as one of the best of all time for their dominance of the European game in recent seasons and their style of quick passing football.
Now in his second year, Mourinho's meticulous work on the training ground has paid off and while they may not be admired to the extent of Barca for the way they play the game, Madrid have still set a new record of 115 goals so far this season.
“These players deserve it, people have seen and cannot be in any doubt of that. I dedicate this to all the people who have helped and suffered with the team,” said Mourinho.
“I know what these celebrations are like as I have now won seven league championships, but the next is always hardest.”
While the league title is won, the battle continues for top scorer and Lionel Messi's hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Malaga means that he is now two ahead of Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo with 46 goals.
The game also saw Messi reach 68 goals overall and break Gerd Muller's record for a European season set in 1972-73.
Barcelona's derby clash with Espanyol will be an emotional occasion for Guardiola, who will take charge of the team for the last time at Camp Nou after deciding to step down following four years of unprecedented success including three league titles and two Champions League trophies.
Valencia are now favourites to win third place and they go into their home game with Villarreal three points ahead of fourth-placed Malaga, who have a tricky match away to Europa League finalists Atletico Madrid.
With two games to go, the battle remains tight below them, with Levante – who are away to Real Mallorca – and Atletico currently occupying the Europa League positions.
At the other end of the table, relegated Racing Santander play third-bottom Real Zaragoza, who are in desperate trouble and need Sevilla to do them a favour against Rayo Vallecano.
Sporting Gijon are all but condemned after they crashed 3-2 at home to Villarreal and face Real Betis, while elsewhere, Bilbao meet Getafe and Osasuna take on Real Sociedad.
Saturday (9pm): Real Zaragoza v Racing Santander, Athletic Bilbao v Getafe, Real Mallorca v Levante, Granada v Real Madrid, Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona v Espanyol, Sporting Gijon v Real Betis, Atletico Madrid v Malaga, Valencia v Villarreal, Osasuna v Real Sociedad – Sapa-AFP