Last weekend's 2-0 win at fifth-placed Racing Santander left Schuster's Real Madrid side 10 points clear at the top of the La Liga table with only five games remaining. With Barcelona going down 2-0 at Deportivo last night - and if Villarreal fail to win their game at Real Betis - then Real Madrid could clinch the title with a win over Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu this evening...
"We have a chance to be champions on Sunday, but that's not what Madrid are thinking about," said Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain on Friday.
"We just want to win, but if the other results turn out in our favour, then we'll take it. We want to wrap up the league as soon as we can, but we have to remain calm. There's no anxiety here. We just want the match to come around and to win it. I can tell you now, though, that the only thing Real Madrid are thinking about is picking up the three points," added the Madrid striker.
Barcelona's defeat at Deportivo sees Madrid bracing itself for a night of partying and those good people over at Marca proclaiming 'tonight's the night.' However, amidst all the premature celebrations , a remark from Gonzalo Higuain sums up this years La Liga better than any other.
The Madrid striker said "The best team wins the league, not the least worse. The most consistent team wins, and if Real Madrid are the leaders, then there must be a reason. I'm not at all worried because we have been the most consistent."
While many may dispute that this season's league is about to be won by the best of a bad bunch, it is somewhat telling that Higuain can only really highlight the team's consistency as an outstanding virtue, and even that claim is open to question. Real Madrid lost nine of their opening 17 games and were knocked out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey. More recently they have picked up just 15 points from a possible thirty in their last ten games, and if that is an extent of the team's consistency then it is hardly the stuff of football folklore for Madrid fans to be passing on to their grandchildren. However, just as this years most consistent team - allegedly - will not lead to any misty eyed nostalgia, nor will this seasons La Liga, and Schuster can hardly take the blame for that.
Looking ahead to this weekend's match, Schuster said "I feel that first we have to think about our game and win it, in our stadium and with our fans. That is the most important thing because everything else depends on the other teams. The best thing is for us to focus on ourselves, because we don't need the help of anybody else."
It appears that all that now stands between Madrid and their 31st league title, is an Athletic side full of confidence following last weekend's 5-1 home win over Valencia. That was Athletic's seventh win in their last 11 matches, helping Bilbao move up in to 9th place, and they could yet make a late challenge for a UEFA cup place after sixth-placed Sevilla drew against Murcia last night.
Real Madrid were 1-0 winners when the two sides met in Bilbao earlier in the season
Real Madrid W5 D1 L4 (Home W14 DO L2) / Athletic Bilbao W 6 D2 L2 (Away W4 D3 L8)
Fran Yeste, Inaki Munoz, Gorka Iraizoz, Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora, Aitor Ocio and Pablo Orbaiz are all out through injury for Joaquin Caparros' Athletic side, but Carlos Gurpegui is available again after completing a lengthy ban for failing a drugs test.
Sergio Ramos returns to the Real Madrid squad following suspension, while Guti has been passed fit to take part after overcoming a knock this week. Ruud van Nistelrooy remains sidelined, even though the Dutch international returned to squad training on Thursday after five weeks out following an ankle operation. Christoph Metzelder is another who will miss the game through lack of fitness, while Roberto Soldado, Michel Salgado and Jordi Codina have been left out by Schuster and Fabio Cannavaro is suspended.
Real Madrid squad (confirmed): Iker Casillas, Dudek, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Heinze, Torres, Marcelo, Diarra, Gago, Guti, Drenthe, Sneijder, Balboa, Robben, Baptista, Higuaín, Robinho, Raúl & Saviola.
Athletic Bilbao squad (confirmed): Armando, Iraola, Murillo, Amorebieta, Koikili, Susaeta, Javi Martínez, Gurpegui, Gabilondo, Etxeberria, Llorente, Expósito, Tiko, Prieto, Garmendia, Aduriz, David López & Aranzubia