While the English Premier league could be decided as soon as this weekend, the destination of the Spanish title is set to go right to the wire with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético all still firmly in contention.
With just two games remaining, any one of those three is still capable of winning La Liga. It has reached the point where if a team slips up, they will be eliminated. The margin for error is zero.
To that end, all three sides were top of the table at one point on Saturday, before it finally reverted to the status quo of Luis Enrique’s team regaining their place at the summit.
The Spanish scheduling meant that the three sides played one after another over the course of the afternoon/evening.
Real were first up in a difficult tie away at Real Sociedad, recent conquerors of Barça. Despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, record signing Gareth Bale was the hero once again to send Zinedine Zidane’s side to the top, a spot they have not occupied at the end of a matchweek since early November.
Next it was the turn of Diego Simeone’s Atlético to leapfrog their Madrid rivals once again.
Buoyed by their Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern in midweek – though mindful that the second leg in Munich is only a few days away – Atlético nonetheless ground out a 1-0 win at home to relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano.
Top scorer Antoine Griezmann, an early second half substitute for Luciano Vietto, scored with his first touch of the game to get his 21st league goal of the season to send the 2014 champions to the top once again.
FT: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Rayo Vallecano
Griezmann fires Atleti to the top of #LaLiga
— Sky Sports La Liga (@revistadelaliga) April 30, 2016
Finally it was on Luis Enrique and Barcelona to restore the natural order of the table. To do so, they would have to overcome the awkward task of beating Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín.
After a frustrating first half in which neither Luis Suárez nor Lionel Messi managed a shot on goal against the ten men of Betis, the deadlock was finally broken early into the second half when Ivan Rakitić scored his fourth goal in six La Liga matches to put the away side in front.
The points were secured ten minutes later when Suárez scored his 35th league goal of the season to ensure Luis Enrique’s side would go into the penultimate game looking down on their rivals.
The win leaves Barcelona and Atlético both on 85 points, with Real breathing down their necks on 84. With both Madrid sides looking good to qualify for a repeat of the 2014 Champions League final, the current La Liga champions will be hoping that Europe will eventually become something of a distraction.
Updated La Liga table after the top 3 all win.
Just 2 games to play – Squeaky Bum Time indeed pic.twitter.com/x83HT577ag
— BBC SPORT (@BBCSPERT) April 30, 2016
The leaders are at home to local rivals Espanyol next weekend, while Atlético travel to bottom side Levante and Real entertain a Valencia side rejuvenated under new boss Pako Ayestarán.
One this is for certain, however – this race is going right to the wire.
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