Real Madrid's 2-0 Victory Over Celta Vigo Adds Pressure on Barcelona Ahead of Atletico Madrid Clash, As Spanish Leaders Seek Win to Avoid Late Season Slump.
Madrid Takes the Lead Against Celta Vigo as Marco Asensio Scores Three Minutes Before Halftime, Assisted by Vinicius Junior's Swift Run on the Flank.
Once again, Eder Militao, the central defender, demonstrated his prowess in the attacking game by utilizing a forceful header to redirect a corner kick by Asensio into the net in the 48th minute.
After securing a victory, Real Madrid managed to reduce Barcelona's considerable lead to eight points, despite having played one additional game.
In the two rounds prior, Barcelona had the opportunity to increase its lead by a staggering 15 points, but the team was only able to secure two consecutive draws. As a result, Real Madrid's almost insurmountable chances of defending its title were given a slight glimmer of hope.
If Barcelona loses to Atletico, who are currently in third place, at Camp Nou on Sunday, it could potentially boost Madrid's confidence with only eight games remaining in the season.
Regardless of the outcome of the match, Madrid's focus is on potentially winning two cups, rather than on attempting a difficult comeback in the domestic league.
Following three additional league games, Madrid is set to face Osasuna on May 6th in the final of the Copa del Rey. A mere three days later, the team that holds the Champions League title will be hosting Manchester City in the semifinals of that tournament.
According to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made a crucial save to prevent Celta's Iago Aspas from scoring in a one-on-one situation, Madrid can potentially achieve both their goals.
“We are going to keep fighting until the last game,” Courtois said. “We have to try to win these next three games, and then after the Copa del Rey final we will see what the difference is. And, in any case, our task is to keep winning so we have good momentum going into the Champions League (semifinals).”
Coach Carlo Ancelotti left first-choice players Luka Modrid, Toni Kroos, Rodrygo, and Dani Carvajal, who all started in their 2-0 win at Chelsea last week, on his bench at the start of the match with Celta.
In their place, Aurelien Tchouaméni and Dani Ceballos played in the midfield, while Nacho Fernández was in defense and Marco Asensio in attack.
Ancelotti’s B team did just fine.
The vision of Ceballos combined with the speed of Vinícius was enough to break down Celta’s resistance.
Ceballos slotted a finely weighted throughball behind the defense to meet Vinícius’ run down the left flank, before he cut back and found Asensio arriving to score from his pass.
Militao put the result beyond doubt when he charged in and rose high above Celta’s defense to thump home Asensio’s corner kick.
Down by two goals, 12th-placed Celta finally started to click in attack. But Gabri Veiga, a 20-year-old midfielder linked to a move to Madrid, and Aspas failed to get off on-target shots after they were set up by left back Javi Galan.
And when Aspas did break past Fernandez and had time and space in his favor, Courtois closed him down and swatted the ball away.
The 35-year-old Aspas made his 450th career appearance for Celta.
Real Sociedad fought back to beat Rayo Vallecano 2-1 and strengthen their hold on fourth place and the last Champions League spot after Real Betis stumbled in a loss at Osasuna.
Fifth-placed Betis fell six points behind Sociedad after Ante Budimir led Osasuna to a 3-2 win over the Seville-based side as it builds momentum for the Copa del Rey final in two weeks.
Athletic Bilbao won at Almeria 2-1 and boosted the Basque club’s chances for fighting for a European competition berth. Valladolid’s 1-0 win over Girona lifted them seven points clear of the relegation zone.