Barcelona slide blows La Liga race wide open

Barcelona suffered their third straight league defeat on Monday, allowing Atletico Madrid to move level on points with four games to go. Not only has Barcelona’s lean run seen Atletico catch them, but bitter rivals Real Madrid have also narrowed the gap to just one point. With such a thrilling finale in the making, we decided to break down the three teams and their chances of winning the title this season.



Remaining fixtures: Sporting (H), Betis (A), Espanyol (H), Granada (A)

Despite suffering their third consecutive league defeat for the first time since 2003, Barcelona should still feel like they will be able to win their remaining games to close out the season. Coach Luis Enrique remained upbeat following their 2-1 defeat to Valencia. “We’ve got a marvellous challenge, if we win the five remaining games we will be champions.” Recovery time between games will become important for Barcelona, who have shown signs of fatigue recently, but will be able to gain more rest now that they have been knocked out of the Champions League. In all honesty Barcelona should ease through these remaining games. They may have had a poor run of late, but they’re still favourites for the title.


Atletico Madrid

Remaining fixtures: Malaga (H), Rayo (H), Levante (A), Celta Vigo (H)

Atletico have lost only once at home this season, to Barcelona, which would make one think that nine of the 15 points available are pretty much guaranteed. However, the next two weeks are extremely busy for Atletico, with five games over the fourteen day stretch. Due to this congestion, it’s likely that they won’t field their strongest team for the league games against Malaga, Rayo, and Levante. It probably won’t become an issue but Diego Simeone will be wary about the possibility of sacrificing the league for the Champions League, a competition they are unlikely to win despite being in the semi-finals. Also, even if Atletico do win all their remaining fixtures, they will still be behind Barcelona on goal difference if the Catalans do the same. Having waited patiently all season for their time to strike, Atletico will be hoping for another hiccup from the other two contenders.


Real Madrid 

Remaining fixtures: Rayo (A), Real Sociedad (A), Valencia (H), Deportivo (A)

Real Madrid definitely have the toughest draw leading into the back end of the campaign. They will need to win all four games to have any kind of shot at the title, and with two Champions League semi-final legs in-between. It could be a step too far for Real Madrid. Their most important match will most likely be the trip to Real Sociedad, a team that beat Madrid in the same fixture last season, and hasn’t lost to Barcelona at home since 2007. Madrid will need to pick up all three points there if they are too remain in the contest. But even with the tough draw, they are still only one point behind both Atletico and Barcelona, and will be ready to pounce if both teams slip up on the home stretch. 

This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2016.
Posted 11:00am Sunday 24th April 2016 by Sean Nugent.