LaLiga title race continues to twist and turn as Atletico stay strong against Real, Barca

·4-min read
INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga
INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have sat atop the LaLiga Santander standings for much of the 2020/21 season but just three points separate them from reigning champions Real Madrid in second, with Copa del Rey champions Barcelona a couple of points further back but with a game in hand. 

The title race looks set to go the wire, with all three eager to avoid a final, fatal 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. 

Real Madrid may have narrowed the gap to just one point after winning "El Clasico" two weekends ago, but this past Sunday dropped points at Getafe, while Atletico finally got back to winning ways. 

Atletico still need to play away at the Camp Nou, and Real Madrid must face a number of European qualifiers before the season’s out. On the last Matchday 31, played this mid-week, the three challengers won their respective games, so the situation remained the same, but with one fewer match left to be played.

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 the LaLiga title will be won and lost. 

ATLETICO MADRID

Current position: first (73 points)

Next fixture: Athletic Bilbao (away), Sunday 

Remaining fixtures: 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 final fixture is away at Real Valladolid, who could well need points in the relegation battle. 

Simeone’s side have seen their previously big lead slowly narrow at the top, but a big win over Eibar last weekend coupled with Real Madrid dropping points means their lead now stands at three points. As they beat Huesca on Thursday, they kept the gap at the top of the table. 

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.

REAL MADRID

Current position: second (70 points)

Next fixture: Real Betis (home), Saturday

Remaining fixtures: Osasuna (home), Sevilla (home), Granada (away), Athletic Bilbao (away), Villarreal (home). 

Real Madrid come into the final six games of the season very much in contention. A dramatic 2-1 win over Barcelona two weekends ago saw them leapfrog their eternal rivals into second, only to drop points at Getafe this past weekend and see Atletico open up a three-point gap at the top. Although they beat Cadiz on Wednesday, they could not close the gap with the Colchoneros.

Zinedine Zidane and his side are only too aware of the importance of finishing the season strong. Los Blancos claimed the 2019/20 championship by winning their final 10 matches in a row following the return from the COVID-19 lockdown, sealing top spot with a round to spare. They face a difficult final few weeks of this campaign, so Zidane will look to bring back that essential winning mentality if he expects his side to stay in the hunt. 

They face a tough run-in though; three of their final four matches of the season are against teams who qualified for European competition last year. 

BARCELONA

Current position: third (68 points)

Next fixture: Villarreal (away), Sunday

Remaining fixtures: 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. 

They may have lost "El Clasico" to Real Madrid two weekends ago, but two weeks is a long time in football. Since then, they’ve won the Copa del Rey and head into the final seven games of the season with cause for optimism. 

They likely cannot afford any further slip-ups in the season run-in, however, and with several top-half-of-the-table sides remaining on their schedule, they will need all the momentum they can muster as they look to pick up three points week after week. 

The big game to watch out for? The visit of Atletico to the Camp Nou on Matchday 35. Having lost the corresponding fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season, this head-to-head clash will likely be decisive, for better or for worse.

INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga
INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga

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