Football

Real Madrid, Barca & Atleti all stumble in La Liga title race

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An incredible run of games in this weekend's La Liga fixtures saw Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid all drop points.

So whilst Real Betis have long been resigned to relegation, matters at the top and bottom of the table have still to be decided, heading into the penultimate round of matches.

Friday's game saw Athletic Bilbao book their potential place in the Champions League, securing a play-off place after beating Rayo Valecano 3-0, with Manchester United target Ander Herrera on the scoresheet. Job well done for Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde, whilst Rayo have produced an incredible run of form to steer away from the relegation zone. Rayo have been a pleasure to watch this season, and are a real credit to La Liga. 

The first of the big slip ups saw Barcelona stumble at home to seventeenth-placed Getafe. Lionel Messi put the Catalans ahead finishing off a sweeping attack, before Ángel Lafita equalised when he capitalised on a bizarre set-piece. Alexis Sanchez put Barcelona back into the lead with twenty-three minutes to play, but Lafita once again capitalised on Barca's aerial weakness to head past a helpless Pinto in injury time. Tough times for Barca, who will probably part with Tata Martino at the end of the season regardless of how the league campaign finished. Luis Enrique, former Real Madrid and Barcelona idol, is the favourite for the job, after a successful first season in La Liga with Celta Vigo.    

Atlético Madrid therefore knew they could take a giant step towards the La Liga title with victory over 10th-placed Levante. Felipe Luiz's own goal inside 10 minutes set the tone for a disjointed performance, and ex-Real Madrid youngster Barral put the game to bed in the sixty-ninth minute.

Worryingly for Atlético Madrid, Levante's Senegalese midfielder Papakouly Diop accused Los Rojiblancos supporters of monkey-chanting. An embarrassing affair for Atlético if proved true, and a disappointing end to one of the best weeks in the club's history.  

Having seen both Barcelona and Atlético stumble, Real Madrid had the chance to make up valuable ground in the title-race. Valencia were in no mood to comply, and spoilt the party.

Jérémy Mathieu put Valencia a goal to the good before Sergio Ramos continued his scoring spree, converting Cristiano Ronaldo's knockdown. All the momentum was with Real Madrid, however Madrid academy graduate Dani Parejo silenced the Bernabeu, putting Valencia ahead on sixty-five minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning flick brought Madrid level in injury time, and Alvaro Morata nearly completed an incredible turnaround, but the despondent look on the Madrid player's faces at full time said it all.

A win and a draw for Atlético in the last two games of the season will be enough to break the Real Madrid/Barcelona title duopoly, however the final clash of the season against Barcelona is no longer one they can lose.

Real Madrid will have to hope for a major slip up by both Atlético and Barcelona, given their weaker head-to-head record.

Blink and you will miss it. The final two weeks of the La Liga season promise to be epic!     

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Topics:
Barcelona
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
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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