MADRID – Zinedine Zidane said on Wednesday that La Liga will be Real Madrid’s top priority next season after they were mathematically ruled out of the title race with five games left.
Barcelona’s victory over Alaves confirmed that Madrid cannot be crowned champions, given they sit 16 points behind the Catalans with only 15 still to play for.
Despite incredible success in the Champions League, it means Madrid have now won the Spanish title only once in seven years, while Barca are on the cusp of securing their fourth in the last five, and eighth in 11.
“For us next year, the league must be our number one priority,” Zidane said.
“It’s the longest competition, it’s the one that cannot be missed, and I’m going to put that in the heads of my players.
“It will be our bread and butter for sure, without devaluing the rest, because we try to fight on all fronts at this club, but our bread and butter will be La Liga.”
Barcelona’s 26th league title will be confirmed on Wednesday night, if Atletico Madrid are beaten at home to Valencia.
If Atletico avoid defeat, Barca can wrap it up with a win at home to Levante on Saturday.
“We have 33 titles,” Zidane said. “Barca are doing well. I will admit when a rival is doing well, but in history, Real Madrid has more league titles.
“But they have been doing better lately, and we need to change the dynamic.”
Madrid are likely to be busy this summer, with Gareth Bale heading a long list of players who could depart, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is among those expected to arrive.
“Even if we always work together with the club, the coach has a say in relation to players and the profiles of players he wants,” Zidane said.
“There has not been much recruitment during the last two or three years. This year, there will certainly be a little more.”
Thibaut Courtois has shaken off a thigh injury and is available to face fourth-placed Getafe on Thursday, meaning Zidane must again decide between the Belgian and Keylor Navas.
Zidane was loyal to Navas during his first stint in charge, and has said again that next season there will be no debate about his first-choice goalkeeper.
“What I would like to do, I won’t say,” Zidane said. “I would like a lot of things, but sometimes they are not done, sometimes the opposite even.
“But this is not the time to talk about this today. Thibaut is available, and so is Keylor.”
Zidane said Vinicius Junior is not yet ready despite returning to training after almost two months out with an ankle ligament injury.
“He won’t get any minutes tomorrow, he has to work again,” Zidane said. “We have to give him time.”
Getafe’s remarkable bid for Champions League qualification has them sitting two points ahead of both Valencia and Sevilla. They beat Sevilla 3-0 at home on Sunday.AFP