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La Liga Preview: Real bullish about title chances

Fit-again midfielder James Rodriguez says Real Madrid can win their remaining fixtures as the capital club ramp up the pressure on league leaders Barcelona with a midweek clash at Rayo Vallecano.

Rodriguez returned from a broken metatarsal that had sidelined him since February as Real humiliated Granada 9-1 at The Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Real were inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo, who bagged a five-goal haul, which included an eight-minute hat-trick in Madrid.

Sunday’s win kept Real within four points of top spot after Barcelona edged Celta de Vigo 1-0 later on Sunday.

Despite the gap with nine matches remaining, Real are still hopeful of lifting the league title heading into Wednesday’s trip to Estadio del Rayo Vallecano. 

“We’re all fit now and that’s good news if we want to achieve things, irrespective of who plays,” Rodriguez is quoted as saying by Marca.

“We’ve got what it takes to win the lot in La Liga between now and the end of the season, we have the talent and faith to do so.”

Real team-mate and full-back Marcelo added: “To get through this, we have to play like we did and try to change Real Madrid’s image. 

“The team has to always be on top form. Winning all ten games is no utopia; let’s just hope that Barcelona slip up.”

Barca are also in action on Wednesday, hosting third-bottom Almeria after battling past Celta courtesy of Jeremy Mathieu’s header.

“Celta were better than us in the first half but in the second half, with the goal, it was easier,” said Mathieu. 

“The goal came from a free-kick but sometimes it’s also the small details that decide matches. We struggled but the three points are ours.”

First-team coach Miguel Rivera will be in the dugout for Almeria’s trip to Camp Nou after Juan Ignacio Martinez was sacked on Sunday.

Reigning champions Atletico Madrid kick-off round 30 with a home clash against Real Sociedad on Tuesday.

Atletico assumed control of third spot after edging Cordoba 2-0 on Saturday and seeing Valencia play out a goalless draw with Villarreal.

The Madrid club are a solitary point clear of Valencia, who make the trip to Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.

“We know that there are nine finals left, that we have to play match-by-match and not think about anyone else. We know that if we win every game we can achieve the objective,” said Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez.

In other fixtures during the week, fifth-placed Sevilla go head-to-head with Levante and Malaga will be out to end a two-game winless run when they tackle Eibar.

Cellar-dwelling Cordoba travel to fellow strugglers Deportivo La Coruna and Celta de Vigo will be without Fabian Orellana for their match against Granada after the Chilean was sent off for throwing grass at Sergio Busquets in his side’s loss to Barca.

Relegation-threatened Elche entertain Getafe, while Villarreal play Espanyol.

Mon 6 Apr, 2015
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