LaLiga set for ElClasico battle as Barça, Real Madrid & Atleti fight out the tightest title race in years
Here’s all you need to know about the LaLiga title race, with just nine games to go and Real Madrid set to host Barcelona in ElClasico this weekend.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico de Madrid have sat atop the LaLiga Santander standings for much of the season but just three points separate them, FC Barcelona in second, and reigning champions Real Madrid. The title race looks set to go the wire, with all three eager to avoid a slip-up which could derail their chances and hand the advantage to their rivals.
“Neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona will lose another match,” Simeone predicted in early March, but we’ve already seen so many shock results this LaLiga Santander campaign that there are no guarantees.
Here’s all you need to know about the final stretch of the title race: who’s involved, where they stand, the games they have left… so you can judge for yourself where you think points, and ultimately the LaLiga title, will be won and lost.
Atlético de Madrid
Current position: 1st (66 points)
Next fixture: Real Betis (away), Sunday April 11th – 9pm CET
Remaining fixtures: SD Huesca (home), Athletic Club (away), SD Eibar (home), Elche CF (away), FC Barcelona (away), Real Sociedad (home), CA Osasuna (home), Real Valladolid (away)
The last time Atleti won LaLiga Santander, it went down to the final day as they took the 2013/14 title with a draw away against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Given how tight this title race promises to be, it could go down to the wire once again. This year, their Matchday 38 fixture is away at Real Valladolid, who could need points in the relegation battle.
Simeone’s side have seen their lead slowly diminish at the top, and now sit just a single point ahead of in-form chasers Barcelona. A visit to the Camp Nou is also in the pipeline for Matchday 35: Barcelona and Atleti will meet in a six-pointer that could even be labelled as a seven-pointer since the head-to-head tiebreaker is at stake, which Atleti currently hold after beating the Catalans 1-0 earlier this season at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Current position: 2nd (65 points)
Next fixture: Real Madrid (away), Saturday April 10th – 9pm CET
Remaining fixtures: Getafe CF (home), Villarreal CF (away), Granada CF (home), Valencia CF (away), Atlético de Madrid (home), Levante UD (away), RC Celta (home), SD Eibar (away)
Barcelona have been in great form domestically in the calendar year of 2021 and approach the final stretch of the season with tremendous momentum. With several top-half-of-the-table sides remaining on their schedule, they’ll need all the momentum they can muster as they look to pick up three points, week after week.
Two games stand out for Ronald Koeman’s side. The first, of course, is this weekend’s ElClasico crucnch match away at Real Madrid, in which they look to avenge their 3-1 defeat at the Camp Nou earlier this season; and then the visit of Atleti to the Camp Nou with four matches remaining. These head-to-head clashes will likely be decisive, for better or for worse!
Current position: 3rd (63 points)
Next fixture: FC Barcelona (home), Saturday April 10th – 9pm CET
Remaining fixtures: Cádiz CF (away), Real Betis (home), Getafe CF (away), CA Osasuna (home), Sevilla FC (home), Granada CF (away), Athletic Club (away), Villarreal CF (home)
Real Madrid are only too aware of the importance of finishing the season strong. Los Blancos claimed the 2019/20 championship by winning their final ten matches in a row following the return from the COVID-19 lockdown, mathematically sealing top spot with a round to spare. They face a difficult final few week of this campaign and Zinedine Zidane will look to bring back that essential winning mentality if he expects his side to stay in the hunt.
There are some really challenging dates remaining in Real Madrid’s diary, not least ElClasico at home to Barcelona this Saturday! Then, three of their final four matches of the season are against teams who qualified for European competition last year.