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It’s the final day of La Liga and we still don’t have a champion! All will be revealed from 5.00pm CET on Saturday, and as long as FC Barcelona beat Granada then they will be lifting the trophy for the second year in a row and the 24th time in total. But Real Madrid are just one point behind, and if they can win their game at Deportivo (which kicks off at the same time), they would be champions if Barça fail to collect three points. It’s going to be a close finish, but FCB have the all-important advantage of knowing that their destiny is in their own hands....
Sandro Ramirez and Claudio Bravo are still injured, but in a bid to boost team unity, the entire first team squad have made the trip. So all of Ter Stegen, Bravo, Masip, Douglas, Piqué Rakitic, Sergio, Alves, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Munir, Sandro, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Aleix Vidal, Vermaelen and Mathieu are in Granada, although that number will have to be cut to sixteen for the match.
The home side meanwhile, are missing Nigerian striker Isaac Success as well as defenders Diego Maínz and Salva Ruiz to injury.
Speaking on Friday, Luis Enrique was in a confident mood. “We are different to other teams” he said. “These players have won so many things and are used to all kinds of vicissitudes. We lap up this kind of pressure. These games are made-to-measure for Barça players.”
Regarding the attitude Granada will take to a game that means nothing special to them now that they are safe from any relegation worries, he added that “there are two theories and they’re both valid. Everyone was sure Atlético Madrid were going to beat Levante but look what happened. The same might happen with Granada. They might stronger with the pressure off or they might relax.”
Meanwhile, Granada’s José González told the media that “we’re going to struggle, run after the ball, it’s not a game we’re going to enjoy. But if they don’t create chances, then they might start getting nervous as time starts ticking by.
“All the fuss around the match is positive and beneficial to my players. You can’t isolate them from everything surrounding the two big clubs that are playing for the title, it’s impossible to control that.”
Barça’s poor run in April allowed Real Madrid to get back to within one point of them in the table, But a run of four consecutive wins, scoring twenty-one goals and conceding none, shows that the form has come back just at the right time and one more win will be enough to secure the trophy.
Things were looking dicey for Granada when they spent six consecutive weeks just one place above the relegation zone. But after three impressive wins in four games (5-1 v Levante, 3-2 v Las Palmas and then 4-1 at Sevilla), they are now safe and have nothing but to pride to play for in their final game of the season.
Barça unexpectedly lost at Granada in April 2014, but otherwise their record has been spot-on since the Andalusians returned to the top flight, winning all eight of the other meetings and scoring four or more goals in half of those games.
Earlier this season, Barça won 4-0 at the Camp Nou with a hat-trick from Leo Messi and a fourth from Neymar.
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