7.00pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the La Liga showdown between Celta Vigo and Real Madrid at Balaidos. The visitors are now within touching distance of a first top-flight crown in five years, requiring four points from their two remaining games to overtake Barcelona and come out on top. Celta, meanwhile, are without as much as a point in five and have fallen down to 13th place.
7.02pmMany in Catalonia will no doubt be coming an eye on proceedings tonight, knowing that victory for Madrid and the first letters of their name can be carved into that famous trophy. With Celta and Malaga to come, both away from home, Los Blancos are the overwhelming favourites to now get the job done. There is still the small matter of a Champions League final to come for Madrid, too, so these next few weeks are truly huge.
CELTA VIGO XI: Sergio; Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Jonny; Wass, Pablo H, Jozabed; Aspas, Guidetti, Sisto
REAL MADRID XI: Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema
7.06pmThe big news as far as the visitors are concerned is that Cristiano Ronaldo starts, having missed the last four away matches due to boss Zinedine Zidane's smart squad rotation. No real need to give the Portuguese a rest now, with two big games to come in the next few days and then a fortnight break before the Champions League final. It goes without saying that Ronaldo really is the key man, scoring in nine of his 11 appearances against Celta and netting 18 in all.
7.08pmNacho was expected to miss out this evening due to an automatic suspension accumulated by yellow cards, but he won his appeal for the booking picked up against Sevilla and is therefore available tonight. Available, but not starting - he is among the subs. Danilo and Marcelo instead occupy the full-back berths, the latter returning to the side after his recent rest. Zidane has made a whopping 268 changes to his starting lineups across 57 games this term, which continues tonight as James Rodriguez also drops out due to a foot problem.
7.10pmRodriguez lasted exactly an hour in the 4-1 win over Sevilla before making way and, having missed a couple of training sessions this week, he is nowhere to be seen tonight - could he have played his last game for Real? Isco is the man to have been given the nod alongside Karim Benzema and Ronaldo, taking the place of Gareth Bale, who remains out with a troublesome muscular problem that may also see him miss the Champions League final in his home city.
7.12pmIn terms of the visitors, Eduardo Berizzo is able to now revert back to a stronger-looking side after weeks of rotation. The club's European aspirations now over, all focus is on the league for these next two games, so John Guidetti is handed a start up top where he is joined by leading scorer Iago Aspas. The former Liverpool man has netted 18 league goals this term - a hugely impressive figure that has seen him linked with a move away in the summer.
7.14pmFacundo Roncaglia and Gustavo Cabral link up in the heart of defence, as expected, while Hugo Mallo and Jony occupy the full-back berths. Pione Sisto is the other player in attack to keep an eye on, meanwhile, offering support to Aspas and Guidetti, as the Sky Blues attempt to end this dire run of league form and potentially end the season on a high by climbing a few spots in the table.
CELTA VIGO SUBS: Villar, Fontas, Pape, Diaz, Beauve, Hjulsager, Gomez
REAL MADRID SUBS: Casilla, Nacho, Coentrao, Morata, Asensio, Lucas, Kovacic
7.18pmNacho among the subs for the visitors, then, having won his appeal for the caution picked up against Sevilla. A lot has been made about the strength of Madrid's bench this season, which is arguably the difference between themselves and Barcelona over the duration of the campaign. Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio have both stepped up to the plate when called upon, and will likely play some part today, while Isco is promoted to the starting XI and Rodriguez is out with a foot injury.
7.22pmAll eyes very much on the visiting side tonight, then, but Celta - looking much stronger tonight than in recent weeks - will themselves see this as a big chance to go out with a bang. They currently sit 13th in the table after focusing almost entirely on Europe of late, picking up a total of 44 points so far - 16 fewer than their final tally of last season when finishing in the lofty heights of sixth place.
7.24pmCelta are on a five-match losing streak in La Liga, coinciding with their progression into the semi-finals of the Europa League last month. Berizzo, touted with taking on the Sevilla job next term with his contract at Balaidos soon to be up, can hardly be blamed for prioritising the continental competition, but the gamble did not pay off as Vigo fell to a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Manchester United at the last-four stage.
7.26pmGoing further back, it is seven defeats in their last eight, with the only respite of sorts coming in Tony Adams's first game in charge of Granada a month ago. They have conceded 17 and scored four in that time, shipping exactly three in their last three matches to Athletic Bilbao, Malaga and Alaves, with tonight's match their first at home in three following a stint on the road. Backed by their home crowd, this offers a big chance to get themselves back on track.
7.28pmIt is worth pointing out at this stage that tonight's game was pushed back from early February, with heavy storms causing structural damage to Balaidos which forced to local council to step in and put a halt to the match on safety grounds. It was far from ideal for both teams, knowing that there would be a fixture backlog to contend with in the latter stages of the season; particularly Real as they were already playing catch-up following their Club World Cup participation pre-Christmas.
7.30pmCelta were in better form when this match was originally meant to be played in February, winning three of their previous four ahead of that postponed clash, but it has been a real disappointing second half to the campaign overall. A lack of consistency, and more specifically this terrible run of losses, has left them nine points off top-half Espanyol with just two games left. The best they can hope for, with Real Sociedad to come on the final day, is an 11th-place finish.
7.32pmAs Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was keen to point out at the weekend, just to get the Madrid nerves jangling a little, Celta do have previous when it comes to pulling off big-name scalps. The Sky Blues have defeated Barca and Real already this season in all competitions, becoming the only side to do so. Victory over the Catalan club here in a seven-goal thriller in October was followed up by an aggregate triumph over Los Blancos in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.
7.34pmVigo won 2-1 at the Bernabeu and then held Madrid to a 2-2 draw in the reverse tie to progress through, ending their opponents' chances of claiming an historic treble. It was arguably the lowest point of the season for Zidane, but tonight is about far more than just revenge for the Frenchman and his side. Besides, had they made it through in the domestic cup competition, they may have fared less well in the Champions League and La Liga further down the line.
7.36pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS!Celta Vigo have lost their last five meetings with Real Madrid, all since Eduardo Berizzo took charge. The Sky Blues have also won just one of the last nine league encounters at Balaidos against today's opponents, a 2-0 triumph in May 2014, losing the other eight during that run. It is fair to say that Los Blancos do not tend to lose matches here, then, which is particularly bad news for those Barcelona fans watching on.
7.40pmZidane's team are in far better form than their opponents, sitting level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table with a game in hand left to play. This would have been the title-clinching evening for Los Blancos had Lionel Messi not had his way, tucking the ball home in the 93rd minute of a dramatic El Clasico showdown a few weeks back to inject some excitement into the title race. Real are still strong favourites, but you would not bet all your life savings on them doing it.
7.42pmMadrid have lost just that one game in their last 14, however, keeping their nerve and only dropping points in that run to Las Palmas and Atletico Madrid. The latter was a cruel blow, coming late on following an Antoine Griezmann strike, yet even that was a point gained as it bettered the results of previous years against their rivals, while Barca would go down 2-0 to Malaga a few hours later. It looked like being, and probably still will be, a defining night.
7.44pmHere we are, then, with Madrid and Barca locked on points at the top of La Liga heading into the final few days. The Catalan giants may be top thanks to a superior head-to-head record, but it hardly tells the whole story because Los Blancos will surely - surely! - move back above them once they get this game in hand out the way with. The formula is far from complicated: Four points from their remaining two games, against Celta and Malaga, will give Zidane's men the title.
7.46pmNo matter what happens this evening - win, lose or draw - the title race will definitely go down to the final day. Barcelona play host to Eibar on Sunday, while Madrid travel to Malaga - a trickier-looking assignment. Despite going the distance in the Champions League, where they remain on track for a third title in four years, Zidane has still managed to keep his players focused on the league - for that he deserves huge praise.
7.48pmAs touched upon a little earlier, fringe players such as Rodriguez, Isco, Morata and Asensio will be fully deserving of their winners' medals, having played such a key part when called upon over the course of the season. Madrid also have an unrivalled knack of scoring late on in goals, including in that aforementioned 3-3 draw with Las Palmas at home, meaning that even when they look dead and buried they still somehow have the character to bounce back.
7.50pmDID YOU KNOW?Real Madrid have scored in 62-straight games in all competitions, while also netting at least once in each of their 36 La Liga games this term. It is a run that is unmatched anywhere in Europe's top divisions, but it is worth mentioning that they have never previously scored in every league game in a season throughout their illustrious history.
7.52pmSince that loss to Barcelona at the Bernabeu a few weeks ago, which could well have been pivotal, Real have responded by winning four in a row. They have netted 16 times during that run, sharing out the goals and coping just fine without an array of their star players. On current form, you would not bet against Los Blancos winning the La Liga and Champions League double, which they last achieved 59 years ago.
Eduardo Berizzo: "It will be a great match to play in front of our supporters. We feel very strong and know what to expect from a great side who are fit and coming off a great week. To beat them we must play very well and perform like we did in the cup win over them."
Zinedine Zidane: "We're in good physical shape and are focused. We are giving our absolute all in every game, every move, giving everything. Every day we're closer, but it's more complicated. Anything can happen, but we always think positively and we'll give everything until the end."
7.56pmZidane claims that his men are feeling good physically, which his hard to argue with when looking at the way he has expertly rotated this season. The Frenchman is on the brink of a truly historic double, something which has not been seen in a generation, yet somehow his work appears to have gone perhaps a tad under the radar. It is almost as though he is doing what is expected and nothing more, yet he could end the season with more major honours as a manager than defeats. Let that sink in!
1 minKICKOFF! We are up and running at Balaidos, where Madrid have seen a fair bit of the ball in the opening minute or so and are feeling their way into the game. Far from being patient, they will want a goal as soon as possible.
3 minPositive start from the visitors, as Benzema gets in behind but cannot find a teammate. Casemiro muscled off the ball, leaving the midfield man a little disappointed, but the referee appeared to get that call correct.
5 minPretty end-to-end feel to the match at the moment, with Celta getting bodies forward. Once their attack broke down Real looked to counter, but Benzema's charge down the left counted for little as he again failed to spot a teammate.
7 minAnother attacking move from the Sky Blues, which this time ends with the ball being well handled by Madrid stopper Navas. Madrid may have a game on their hands tonight, but they do not seem to bee that keen to soak up any pressure.
9 minGOAL! CELTA VIGO 0-1 REAL MADRID (CRISTIANO RONALDO)
10 minYou just have to stand and admire this guy sometimes - ironic, because that is exactly what Sergio Alvarez did when Cristiano Ronaldo fired away on goal. Looked like being just half a chance for the Portuguese, picking up the ball on the edge of the box, working a yard of space and picking his spot past Alvarez.
12 minMadrid had not created anything prior to their early breakthrough, with Celta looking just as lively. Reluctant to even call that Ronaldo strike a chance - when you have him in the side, though, you almost expect him to find the net from 20 yards out.
14 minSHOT! Guidetti was unable to wriggle his way through a sea of bodies, but from the next wave of attack Jonny got a shot on goal that deflected into the hands of Keylor Navas. Credit to Celta, who are here to give their opponents a game.
16 minA number of players one booking away from an automatic suspension as far as Madrid are concerned, incidentally, including star man Ronaldo. A Celta free kick into the box is headed down by Gustavo Cabral into the hands of Navas.
18 minSisto given a chance to get a shot in from range, which was deflected wide. Navas tried his best to keep it in but was unable to, although it did not matter in the end as Cabral could not direct the set-piece delivery on goal.
20 minCelta have just about been the better side so far, testing Navas with a couple of routine stops. Just the one half-chance for the visitors, meanwhile, which Ronaldo buried in typical trademark style - 19 goals for him against Celta.
22 minA quarter of the match played and Celta can be happy with what they have given so far. Unfortunate to find themselves a goal down, courtesy of Ronaldo's latest strike from range. Madrid yet to really find their groove.
24 minKroos looks to make some inroads down the left flank, picking out Ronaldo who could not quite bring the ball under control in time to test Alvarez. A cross into the box was then punched clear by the Celta keeper.
26 minReally disappointing from Sisto, who has the chance to return the ball to his teammate but instead goes for goal. A poor attempt which failed to test Navas, from what was just about the best-worked move of the night so far.
28 minGood work from Benzema down the right this time, sending in a teasing ball towards the back post towards Ronaldo. The Portuguese would have had a tap-in if not for Roncaglia's sliding intervention to concede a corner.
30 minAs things stand, Madrid will go into the final day of the season sitting top of the pile on 90 points - three more than Barcelona. Needing just a point at Malaga, you would strongly back them to get themselves over the line.
32 minYELLOW CARD! Ronaldo playing pretty much as the striker in the side at the moment, which is increasingly becoming his strongest position. Benzema just off him and Isco slightly deeper again. Casemiro booked for a strong challenge.
34 minSAVE! Big stop from Navas - not for the first time this season. Daniel Wass belts the free kick right down the middle, with the keeper doing well to read the swerve. Roncaglia could not tap in the rebound, but he was offside anyway.
36 minLess than 10 minutes of the half to play and I would say that Celta are still looking the better side. Navas has now been required a few times, while Alvarez's only real involvement so far has been picking the ball out of his net.
38 minGuidetti was through on goal if he could just get the ball out of his feet, but in the end he ran straight into Varane with a couple of men over. Celta doing everything except getting a telling shot on target at the moment.
40 minSHOT! Disappointing from Aspas, who blasts the ball into the side-netting. Probably should have been sending his shot across the face of goal, in the end leaving Navas with nothing to do. Moments later, the same player sent a shot a yard wide from range.
42 minYELLOW CARD! A big call from the referee. Aspas chipped the ball up and it hit Varane quite clearly on the arm, pretty much right on the line - a penalty. Except the officials did not spot it, and Aspas was instead booked for dissent.
44 minRonaldo slots the ball through for Benzema, who catches out the keeper but is denied by the offside flag. Half time now just moments away in a first half that has completely flown by - an entertaining match so far.
45+1 minHALF TIME: CELTA VIGO 0-1 REAL MADRID
8.46pmMadrid turned things up a notch in the closing stages of the half. Isco was as good as though but was let down by a lack of strength. Benzema was played in moments later, only for his shot to be kept out by Alvarez. Celta have looked very bright in the first half, registering double figures for attempts, but it is the visitors who lead through a Ronaldo strike.
8.49pmCristiano Ronaldo fired the visitors ahead through the first attempt of the evening, picking up a loose ball 20 yards from goal and blasting a clean strike past Sergio Alvarez via the legs of Gustavo Cabral - his 19th goal against Celta in 12 games. Celta arguably had the better of the first-half chances, though, coming close through strikes from John Guidetti and Daniel Wass, the latter of whom sent a fizzing free kick right down the middle.
8.52pmEighteen-goal Iago Aspas grew into the match and had two openings in the space of a minute, first picking out the side-netting when he should have been testing Keylor Navas, before firing a yard wide from the edge of the box. A big talking point arrived 40 minutes in when the ball popped up and hit Raphael Varane on the arm right on the edge of the penalty area, but the referee failed to spot it and instead booked Aspas for dissent.
CELTA VIGO SUBS: Villar, Fontas, Pape, Diaz, Beauve, Hjulsager, Gomez
REAL MADRID SUBS: Casilla, Nacho, Coentrao, Morata, Asensio, Lucas, Kovacic
46 minRESTART! Ronaldo and Benzema exchanging words as they make their way back out on to the field of play. A disjointed first-half showing from Los Blancos, but no changes made by Zidane at the interval.
48 minGOAL! CELTA VIGO 0-2 REAL MADRID (CRISTIANO RONALDO)
49 minRonaldo yet again finds a way through, taking his career tally against Celta to 20 goals in 10 appearances, and surely puts Madrid a point away from the title. Isco turned defence into attack with a powerful midfield burst, slotting the ball through for Ronaldo - marginally offside - who tucked home via the post.
51 minAround 15 seconds before that Ronaldo goal, Guidetti had a good chance to test Navas. His failure to do so, instead turning his back on goal, led to the ball being turned over and Isco setting Ronaldo free. Fine margins!
53 minZidane may be tempted to make a change or two as we approach the hour but, on the basis of what we saw in the first half, Celta look as though they have a goal in them. All hope for Barcelona not over quite yet.
55 minThings panning out perfectly for Zidane at the moment, with Celta not looking as lively as they did in the first half. Thirty-five minutes to see through and they will require just a point at Malaga on Sunday evening.
57 minFew gaps opening up now for Madrid to exploit, which Ronaldo fails to do on this occasion as he is unable to speed away from his marker. Los Blancos looking fairly composed now, as they take a giant step towards the title.
59 minNot a great deal happening at the moment, in truth. The way things are going will suit Zidane just fine, with his men looking very comfortable at the moment and slowly probing away for a killer third of the evening.
61 minRED CARD! Aspas, booked in the first half for dissent, is shown a second yellow for a supposed dive. The referee has again got this one wrong - Aspas was shoved slightly by Ramos, which should have led to a penalty.
63 minYELLOW CARD! Things getting a little comical now as Jonny is shown a yellow card for his protests after Ronaldo escaped a caution for an alleged dive. Again, there was contact made and the Portuguese probably should have had a pen.
65 minCelta's assistant manager has been sent to the stands for acting angrily to some of these referring decisions. Already without the banned Berizzo, the kitman may now have a chance to show his leadership qualities!
67 minSAVE! Got to wonder why Madrid are supposedly so desperate to sign De Gea this summer. Navas with another top save to keep out Wass, who did well to get the ball under control and was favourite to find the net.
69 minGOAL! CELTA VIGO 1-2 REAL MADRID (JOHN GUIDETTI)
70 minWhat a response this has been from the home side! Down to 10 men and with things threatening to boil over, a bereft of confidence Guidetti makes the most of some slack Isco play by blasting a deflected shot over the reach of Navas.
71 minGOAL! CELTA VIGO 1-3 REAL MADRID (CRISTIANO RONALDO)
72 minHuge goal for Madrid, as Benzema restores their two-goal advantage within a minute or so of being pegged back. Good play from the visitors, with Benzema slotting the ball down the line for Marcelo, who returned the favour by gifting the Frenchman a tap-in.
74 minSUBS! Casemiro is replaced by Kovacic for the visitors, while Diaz replaces Jozabed for the home side. Cannot take your eyes off this game at the moment, as Hugo Mallo becomes the latest player to be shown a yellow for his challenge.
76 minCHANCE! Add this to the scrapbook - an sitter missed by Ronaldo! It was too easy in the end, with Ronaldo picked out in a four-against-three situation but somehow placing the ball wide of Alvarez's goal from a few yards out.
78 minSAVE! Alvarez called into action to turn aside Isco's shot from just inside the box. Madrid really starting to turn on the style now and, for near enough the first time tonight, look worthy of their two-goal lead.
80 minCELTA VIGO SUB! Just non-stop action in this explosive second half at Balaidos. Pape Cheikh has been introduced in place of Sisto, adding some fresh legs with 10 minutes now left to play in this entertaining match.
82 minThe 10 men of Celta not doing too much to threaten Real at the moment, with the visitors looking the more likely to find the fifth goal of the evening. Questionable decisions from the ref, which has swung the game Los Blancos' way.
84 minREAL MADRID SUB! Isco has put in a good shift this evening, even if he was at fault for Celta's goal, and he is now replaced by Asensio. Just six minutes left to play at Balaidos, where there is no real sign of the scoreline changing.
86 minYELLOW CARDS! The referee lost control of this game a long time ago. Things have boiled over once again, with Pablo Hernandez and Sergio Ramos cautioned for some handbags. Not great to say in what has been an entertaining match.
88 minGOAL! CELTA VIGO 1-4 REAL MADRID (TONI KROOS)
89 minKroos makes it look easy as he composes himself inside the box, gives the keeper the eyes and picks out the near corner. That will seal the points for good, with goalscoring specialists Madrid again netting four in a league match.
90+1 minThree minutes of added time to come at Balaidos. Not enough time for the 10 men of Celta to find a route back into the match, but champions-elect Madrid look as though they want another goal to well and truly put the icing on the cake.
90+3 minFULL TIME: CELTA VIGO 1-4 REAL MADRID
9.54pmThe referee blows his whistle for full time, bringing an end to another entertaining clash in the Spanish top flight. Real Madrid may have benefited from some questionable refereeing decisions, and there was also very little in the game for 45 minutes, but they were deserved winners in the end. Just one more point required now for Los Blancos, which you would fancy them to pick up at Malaga on Sunday.
9.56pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from Balaidos. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, and be sure to join us on Sunday evening for updates from games involving the top two in La Liga. Can Barcelona pull off what seems like an impossible title win? We will find out in four days' time!
Madrid (AFP) – La Liga leaders Real Madrid’s visit to Celta Vigo scheduled for Sunday has been postponed after strong winds and heavy rain caused structural damage to Celta’s Balaidos stadium, the Spanish league confirmed.
Earlier on Saturday, the mayor of Vigo stated the stadium wasn’t in a safe condition to host the game, but both clubs and the league waited on a security report before a final decision was made.
“According to the report from the Vigo town hall, this organisation believes the Balaidos stadium will not be secure for players and fans to attend the match tomorrow Sunday, February 5, 2017, for Week 21 of La Liga Santander between Celta Vigo and Real Madrid,” La Liga said in a statement.
“La Liga will propose possible dates to dispute said match listening to the opinion of the clubs and television operators, so that the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) can decide to fix a date for a postponed match.”
Celta’s Galician rivals Deportivo la Coruna saw their clash with Real Betis on Friday also postponed due to weather damage to Deportivo’s Riazor ground.
“Firemen, the town hall and Celta’s security staff looked at the conditions and (the game) can’t go ahead,” Vigo mayor, Abel Caballero, told Spanish radio station La SER.
“The game will be played at another time, in better conditions, because we can’t guarantee the safety of the people that go there.”
The news could prove a big blow to Real’s title hopes as Celta were set to rest a host of first-team players with the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Alaves to come on Wednesday. The tie is finely balanced at 0-0.
Madrid hold a one-point lead over title rivals Barcelona but now have two games in hand.
Zinedine Zidane’s men face a packed fixture schedule in the next few months with a return to Champions League action also to come against Napoli on February 15.
Due to Madrid’s Champions League campaign and Celta’s involvement in the Copa del Rey and Europa League, a date for any rearranged fixture could be put back until May.