The La Liga title race is well and truly on as the last games of the season are set to get underway. Current leaders Barcelona and second place Real Madrid are joint on 78 points a piece, but Real Madrid have a game in hand. Can they pull it back, or will Barcelona do enough?
La Liga first became really wide open on Sunday 23rd April when Barcelona came away 2-3 up at Madrid’s home ground. Messi scored his 500th goal late on, securing the game after Rodriguez’s 85th minute equalizer. The three points they gained, and the knock-back Madrid suffered, were enough to bring Barcelona up to first place, and the head-to-head began.
Since then both teams have earned themselves stunning league victories. The mid-week matches resulted in Real Madrid crushing Deportivo in an impressive 2-6 away display. Meanwhile, Barcelona annihilated bottom of the league Osasuna 7-1 at Camp Nou, ensuring the team’s guaranteed relegation.
The fixtures show that both teams have fairly evenly matched end season games to play. Real Madrid still have to play Valencia at home, followed by bottom of the league Granada away, as well as Sevilla, Malaga and Celta Virgo.
Barcelona have to play their derby away against Espanyol, and have a tough match to play against Villa Real. They must also face off against Las Palmas and Eibar. The good news for Barcelona is that three of their four remaining games are at home, and the team have a stunning home record with only one away loss this season to Alaves.
Real Madrid have put in an impressive Champions League performance this year too, and are still in the competition as joint favorites to win, along with Juventus. However, this could work against them in terms of their league performance. They have a tough two legs to play against Atletico in the semi-finals in early May, and this could tire out star players.
Barcelona, on the other hand, have already crashed out of the Champions League after they lost out to Juventus in the quarter finals. They are shooting for the domestic double, but will need to beat Alaves in Copa del Rey on the 27th May. The cup final is after La Liga games are over, so this will not affect the competition.
The bookies give pretty close outright odds for the two teams. Barcelona have 7/4 to win the league, and Real Madrid are slight favorites with 4/9. However, it’s anyones game, and this is going to be an epic race that goes all the way to the final hurdle.
Ultimately, La Liga results depend very much on Real Madrid’s game in hand, which resulted from a postponed game against Celta Virgo, the date of which has not yet been set. This could be the game that settles the competition, as both Barcelona and Real Madrid currently show no sign of slowing. If Real Madrid can stay neck and neck and then take a point or more in this game, then they will win the league.
Both teams will play this Saturday, April 29th.