Leganes get ready to host the Champions of Spain, Real Madrid, as we head into the last matchday of the La Liga season.
Real Madrid were officially crowned as the champions of Spain after their 2-1 win over Villarreal in midweek. This is their first league title since 2016/17 when they finished three points above FC Barcelona. This season, however, they have managed to top that achievement and will cap off the season with at least a four-point gap.
Los Blancos won ten games on the bounce post-lockdown en route the title, coming up with clutch performances against teams like Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, Granada, and Getafe. On Sunday, they face a much easier opposition, though, in the form of Leganes.
Leganes have been in a different race, on the opposite end of the table, fighting for a place in the top flight. At the moment, they sit in 18th with 35 points, one adrift of safety. They will be looking for a favour from already relegated Espanyol when they host Celta Vigo. To stay up, though, they will have to take some points off the champions.
Their last outing came against Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames, where they pulled off an upset, winning 2-0. This gave them a significant lifeline, as Celta dropped points against Levante. The reverse fixture between Leganes and Madrid came on the last day of October when Zinedine Zidane’s men put five unanswered goals past them.
Team News & Tactics
Javier Aguirre will have to cater to several injuries ahead of their game vs Real Madrid. Alexander Szymanowski, Oscar Rodriguez and Guido Carrillo will all miss out on the game due to injury. At the same time, Kevin Rodrigues and Unai Bustinza will go through a last-minute medical to confirm their participation. Ruben Perez is suspended.
Ivan Cuellar will start in goal for Leganes and will be screened by a back-five consisting of Chidozie Awaziem, Rodrigo Tarin and Dimitrios Siovas at the heart of the defence. Aitor Ruibal and Jonathan Silva will assume responsibility as the full-backs in the bottom-heavy lineup from Aguirre.
Roque Mesa and Bryan Gil will be given the starting nod as the wide midfielders in what is expected to be a four-man midfield. Ibrahim Amadou and Recio will start as the double pivot in the absence of Ruben Perez. Amadou will add grit while Recio will play as a traditional number eight.
Miguel Angel Guerrero will play as the sole striker but will be joined by Gil and Mesa on the wings as Leganes restructure into a 3-4-3 while attacking.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Cuellar; Ruibal, Awaziem, Tarin, Siovas, Silva; Mesa, Amadou, Recio, Gil; Guerrero
Real Madrid, on the other hand, have just one injury to deal with as Marcelo is the only player missing from Zinedine Zidane’s team, through injury while Gareth Bale has been left out due to personal reasons. Eden Hazard, too, has been omitted from the 22-man squad for the match.
Despite winning the league, Zidane is expected to bring in his best players on the pitch to keep them fresh for the Champions League return leg against Manchester City.
Thibaut Courtois will start in goal and will hope to continue his incredible form. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane will screen the Belgian as the centre-back duo. Nacho is expected to replace Dani Carvajal as the right-back, while Ferland Mendy retains his spot on the left.
Casemiro will start as the holding midfielder, partnering Federico Valverde in the double pivot. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are expected to come off from the bench to avoid fatigue. Isco will be the third midfielder, but he will be occupying the spot behind the striker as the attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1.
Karim Benzema is expected to be given a rest as Luka Jovic takes up his spot as the striker. Marco Asensio should line up on the left flank while Rodrygo Goes assumes responsibility on the right. Brahim Diaz is expected to make an appearance off the bench as well.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro; Rodrygo, Isco, Asensio; Jovic
- Real Madrid are on a 10-game winning streak, winning each of their games since football resumed in June.
- Leganes are unbeaten in their last four games, winning thrice and drawing once.
- Madrid have won six of their seven games against Leganes in the league, a run that includes just one draw.
- There have been three or more goals in six of the seven times these two teams have met each other.
- Leganes have hosted Madrid thrice in the league, and have conceded eight goals in these encounters, scoring just four.
Player to Watch
Marco Asensio was tipped to take up the right-wing spot this season partnering alongside Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema, but an ACL injury in pre-season ruled him out for nearly a year. The Spaniard returned to action against Valencia, coming on for Federico Valverde with 15 minutes to go. He scored with his first touch of the ball, and then set up Benzema for the third of the game.
He has added another to his tally since then, starting and scoring against Deportivo Alaves. Asensio was inches away from scoring the goal that sealed the title for Madrid in midweek, but it was ruled out by the VAR. However, we expect him to be on the scoresheet at least once, as his incredible long shots would come in very useful against Leganes who defend with nine men behind the ball.
Leganes 0-2 Real Madrid
Since returning to action Real Madrid have been quite average at finishing off the enormous number of chances they create. In fact, they have won six out of the ten games with a one-goal margin, and three with a 2-goal margin. And we expect Sunday to be no different as Leganes will do their best to grapple on to any last hopes they have right now.
However, this is the 34-times Champions we are talking about, who are somewhat experienced with settling their nerves after a title victory, unlike Liverpool in the Premier League, and we will see that this weekend. Moreover, Zidane has claimed that he hinted that he would be fielding a strong side tomorrow despite finishing on top. So, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Los Blancos.