Luis Enrique’s Barcelona took their first steps to becoming treble-winners by stealing the La Liga title from Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday. Holding a four-point advantage over second-placed Real Madrid, Lionel Messi secured the win with a second-half strike to seal a 1-0 win over the current holders. Celebrations began upon the final whistle, although the playing staff and coaches are well aware that two more crunch games remain. First up is the Copa del Rey Final against Athletic Bilbao on the 30th May before the Champions League climax against Juventus on 6 June. Luis Suarez will be targeting the first of those two finals having missed out on the title party due to a hamstring injury. Likely to be rested for the last league game next week, having the MSN trio firing on all fronts until the end of the season would be fitting.
Real Madrid’s season crumbled into dust last week as they lost ground on Barcelona and crashed out of Europe to Juventus on Wednesday. Sunday was merely the day that confirmed that the La Liga title was out of their reach, despite another hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. His three goals in a 4-1 win at Espanyol puts him four clear in the race for the Pichichi, which might prove to be a crumb of comfort for him. At the other end however, Madrid have had problems all season. Keylor Navas’ mistake gifted Espanyol an equaliser, though Iker Casillas and his defence have been poor on occasions throughout the season, causing them to have only the 5th best defence in La Liga. If the club are to move for David De Gea then it would help them match Barca’s defensive record and perhaps lead Los Blancos to a stronger title assault next season.
Almeria, Eibar, Granada and Deportivo head into the final day of the La Liga campaign hoping to avoid the two available relegation spots and remain in the top tier. Almeria and Eibar currently occupy those two positions with 32 points each, two points adrift of the others, though Eibar have the best chance of survival as they host already-down Cordoba. The other three sides all face difficult fixtures with Deportivo forced to travel to the Nou Camp to face the new champions. Granada host Atletico Madrid whilst Almeria have a home fixture against Valencia, with Los Che requiring a win to seal Champions League football next season. Like in many previous seasons, the permutations are endless due to the head-to-head records taking precedence over goal difference so it could be a topsy-turvy day down the bottom!
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