Ronaldo, Zidane say Real Madrid's focus on title-clinching win vs. Malaga
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo says that both he and the team were hitting form just at the right time as they head into next weekend's final La Liga game at Malaga needing just a draw to claim the title.
Madrid moved three points clear of Barcelona at the head of the table by winning their game in hand 4-1 at Celta Vigo on Wednesday, with Ronaldo scoring twice and Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos also on the scoresheet.
The result means a draw at Malaga on Sunday will secure Los Blancos' first La Liga title in five years, no matter what Barca do in their final game at home to Eibar that same night.
Speaking on BeIn Sports after the final whistle at Balaidos, the Portugal star said nothing had been won yet, but that he and his team were confident they could finish the job.
"We still have one game to go," Ronaldo said. "We know we have to keep going until the end. We played very well today, but we showed we are in good form and feeling confident. We know Malaga will be strong in their home.
"But we must think about ourselves and trust in ourselves that we can win it. We are going there to win the game, that is always the objective of this team. We are Real Madrid and we must show we are the best team and the champions."
The 32-year-old now has 13 goals in his last eight outings across La Liga and the Champions League, and accepted that he was benefitting from being rested earlier in the campaign by coach Zinedine Zidane.
"You win things at the end of the season," he said. "The boss has managed things very well this year. We have a very good squad, with lots of good young players and others with experience. I have rested a bit more this year, to be good at the end of the season.
"It has gone well, this is when things are decided. I am doing well and helping the team with goals at the moment. So I am happy."
Ronaldo batted back a question from a local TV reporter who wondered how he had felt after missing a late chance for a hat trick.
"What I did was open the scoring and got the second goal," he said. "It is not usual for me to have a miss like that, but it can happen to human beings who can make mistakes too."
With Madrid also in the June 3 Champions League final against Juventus, Bernabeu fans are already thinking of the club's first La Liga and European Cup double since 1958.
"We just think about Sunday at the moment," Ronaldo said. "Then we will have two weeks to prepare well for the Champions League, but now we just think about [Malaga]."
Zidane was in no mood to celebrate just yet either at his postmatch news conference, admitting he was "happy" but "tired" as his team moved to within a point of the title.
"We still have one game to go, we need to get a result [at Malaga], and keep doing what we have been doing," Zidane said. "We do not feel it is over yet. This is a difficult place to come and it was a tough game. We played with an incredible attitude from the start, and with personality, and got the three points we wanted. But the last game maybe will be even more difficult than today."
Zidane had praise for Ronaldo's double and agreed that everyone could see that his rotation policy had paid off.
"Cristiano feels very well, physically great," he said. "You can see that on the pitch. He has shown that again today, not just with his goals, he worked hard too in defence."
The Frenchman admitted his team had lost control of the game at times, with Celta's Iago Aspas, Daniel Wass and John Guidetti all having excellent chances to score.
"It was important to start the game well," he said. "We did that, and we scored. Then we had 20 minutes when it was back and forth and although we counter-attack very well that type of game does not really suit us.
"The second half we managed the game much better, having control with the ball. We had a lot of chances then, and could have scored even more goals."
Although a point would be enough on Sunday, Zidane said his team would go out as usual to win the game and make sure of the three points.
"We cannot play for a draw, we must play our normal game," he said. "We know it will be a difficult game, but we are going to try and play at 100 percent to win it."
Told that he did not look too happy as he faced the press, Zidane smiled and said that it had been a long season with some suffering, but was about to end well for all associated with Madrid.
"I am happy, I am just a bit tired that's all," he said. "We have been at this for nine months, with some difficulties at times, against very good rivals. To win a Liga title you must suffer, but you see by the way they play that the team enjoys it, that they are feeling very good. All the Madrid fans too."
For his part, Isco is demanding "one last push'' in the season finale with the former Malaga forward urging the team to push through against his one-time club.
He told Real's official website: "We've just won another cup final and now we need one last push at La Rosaleda, which will not be easy.
"We are highly motivated and, although we only need a point, we will go there to win, as always.
"Going back to my hometown is always special for me, and on this occasion we could win the league there, which has never happened before.''
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan