The 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season looks to be a three-horse race coming into the final stretch.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have sat atop the LaLiga Santander standings for much of the season but just six points separate them, 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.
Current position: 1st (66 points)
Next fixture: Sevilla (away)
Remaining fixtures: Real Betis (away), Huesca (home), Athletic Bilbao (away), Eibar (home), Elche (away), Barcelona (away), Real Sociedad (home), Osasuna (home), Real Valladolid (away).
The last time Atletico 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.
A visit to the Camp Nou is also in the pipeline for Matchday 35. Barcelona and Atletico 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 Atletico currently hold after beating the Catalans 1-0 earlier this season at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Current position: 2nd (62 points)
Next fixture: Real Valladolid (home)
Remaining fixtures: Real Madrid (away), Getafe (home), Villarreal (away), Granada (home), Valencia (away), Atletico Madrid (home), Levante (away), Celta Vigo (home), Eibar (away).
Barcelona have been in great form domestically in 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 is "El Clasico" away at Real Madrid in little over a week, in which they look to avenge their 3-1 defeat at the Camp Nou earlier this season; and then the visit of Atletico 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 (60 points)
Next fixture: Eibar (home)
Remaining fixtures: Barcelona (home), Cadiz (away), Real Betis (home), Getafe (away), Osasuna (home), Sevilla (home), Granada (away), Athletic Bilbao (away), Villarreal (home).
Real Madrid are only to 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 "El Clasico" at home to Barcelona. Then, three of their final four matches of the season are against teams who qualified for European competition last year.