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La Liga: Latest on the title race

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It was always going to be a crazy weekend at the top of La Liga, with two of the title challengers fresh from booking a Champions League final place while Barcelona were preparing to play at an emotional Camp Nou following Tito Vilanova's sad passing. Yet nobody could have predicted the madness that ensued.

At the start of the weekend, Atlético were in the driving seat and wins in the matches away to Levante and at home to Málaga would give them their first title since 1996. After 35 matches, they were four points ahead of Barcelona and six ahead of city rivals Real who had a game in hand.

Barcelona were first up and started the weekend as outsiders. Their 2-2 draw at home to Getafe saw the current champs even more unlikely to go on to win the league title and the faces on the Barcelona fans and players alike suggested that the Catalans knew their crown title was heading to the capital.

It was a cruel way to draw the game as well, with Getafe's equaliser coming in the 90th minute from Ángel Lafita following goals for Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez. 

For some Barcelona fans, the draw was simply a confirmation of the end of a title challenge that was out of their hands anyway. Had they closed out the win, however, their fate would very much have been back in their own hands by the following evening...

Sunday arrived and it was the two Madrid sides taking to the field. Atlético were first up away to Levante, a side comfortably in mid-table and seemingly with nothing to play for. That wasn't the case, though, and the side from Valencia were more than up for it and frustrated Atlético who were time and again denied by superb blocking and some top goalkeeping from Keylor Navas.

Diego Simeone's league leaders went down 2-0 in the end, with Felipe Luis scoring an own goal before a second-half strike from David Barral - once of Real Madrid - confirmed the defeat.

Atlético now needed a result to go the way of Levante's neighbours Valencia as they played the late kick-off at the Santiago Bernabéu. A Real Madrid win would have cut Atlético's lead to just three points with Real's game in hand at relegation-battling Valladolid to come this Wednesday.

Bearing in mind that Atlético's last match is the tricky trip to the Camp Nou, Atlético really would like to enter that last match with a lead over their city rivals.

That desired lead may still come thanks to Valencia's plucky draw and it could have been an even better result for Atlético had Cristiano Ronaldo not scored a spectacular stoppage-time back heel to earn his side a 2-2 draw and a point.

Ronaldo's equaliser means that Real Madrid now sit five points behind Atlético and that difference could be cut to just two points before the drama kicks off next weekend - should Ronaldo and co get the three points at Valladolid on Wednesday.

Barcelona would then sit one point behind Real and three behind Atlético, meaning a Real Madrid slip up is necessary for the Catalans to have any chance of retaining their title.

If this hasn't been complicated enough, the Spanish league splits teams on the same number of points through head-to-head results and not goal difference. That means that a scenario where both Madrid teams finish on level points - which could occur if Real win all of their games and Atlético draw at the Camp Nou after beating Málaga - then Atlético Madrid would be crowned champions based on their superior head-to-head over Real Madrid.

Barcelona would also take over Real on head-to-head after winning both Clásicos this season, while Barcelona and Atlético's head-to-head record won't be decided until that final day after a goalless first meeting at the Vicente Calderón.

It's as exciting as it is confusing at the top of La Liga with two weeks left and there's still time for the next twist or turn. A last minute Messi winner on the final day to gift Real Madrid the league? That's still very much a possibility...

The latest league table can always be found right here.

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Topics:
Barcelona
La Liga
Football
Real Madrid

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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