With only four matchdays remaining, this weekend throws up two decisive games in the race for the title: FC Barcelona-Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid-Sevilla FC. Just six points separate these top four sides.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico de Madrid have sat atop the LaLiga Santander standings for much of the season but with just a handful of games to go the title race couldn’t be tighter. Incredibly, just six points separate the top four sides: Atleti, reigning champions Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC. The title race looks set to go down to the wire, and the weekend sees the top four clubs face each other: FC Barcelona-Atlético de Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday, and Real Madrid-Sevilla FC on Sunday at Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium.
“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. Barcelona had the perfect chance to go top in midweek, only to lose their game in hand at home to a sensational Granada CF side. Real Madrid had narrowed the gap to just one point after winning ElClasico two weekends ago, but then failed to capitalise after being held to goalless draws by both Getafe CF and Real Betis. Meanwhile, Sevilla lost against Athletic Club last Monday (just their second defeat in almost two months), which left slightly more adrift from top spot but still with a chance of winning the title, and also with a very strong chance of beating their historical points record.
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 (76 points)
Next fixture: FC Barcelona (away) – Saturday 8th May, 4.15pm CEST
Remaining fixtures: 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 well need points in the relegation battle.
Simeone’s side have seen their previously big lead slowly narrow at the top, but remain top despite dropping points at Athletic Club – one of the toughest away days in LaLiga – last weekend. Barcelona’s loss to Granada means that Atleti are the only side to hold their destiny in their own hands. Elche CF were on the verge of denting their title hopes last weekend, only to miss a penalty in second half stoppage time. Atleti’s visit to Barcelona this weekend (May 8th) will go a long way towards deciding the title, a true six-pointer at the top. Or even 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 (74 points)
Next fixture: Sevilla FC (home) – Sunday 9th May, 9pm CEST
Remaining fixtures: Granada CF (away), Athletic Club (away), Villarreal CF (home)
Real Madrid come into the final four games of the season very much in contention, two points behind leaders and city rivals Atleti. A dramatic 2-1 win over FC Barcelona three weekends ago saw them leapfrog their eternal rivals into second, but two goalless draws, first against Getafe and then at home to Betis, either side of a win over Cadiz in recent weeks have seen the reigning champions stutter in their title defence.
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 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, 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. Watch out in particular for their mouthwatering clash on Sunday with Sevilla because, despite being four points behind, the Andalusians are still in with a shout and have been in tremendous form for the last two months.
Current position: 3rd (74 points)
Next fixture: Atlético de Madrid (home) – Saturday 8th May, 4.15pm CEST
Remaining fixtures: Levante UD (away), RC Celta (home), SD Eibar (away)
Ronald Koeman’s side could have gone top last week with a win in their game in hand against Granada on Thursday night. What could have been a big night in the title race – and a change in league leader – turned out to be even more dramatic than anyone expected. Barça let the lead slip and fell to 2-1 defeat at home to the Andalusians, missing their chance to jump to the top of the standings and allowing Atleti to stay top. Crucially, the defeat means that the title is no longer in their hands. They did follow up with a gutsy 3-2 win away at Valencia, so it’s all still to play for.
The big game to watch out for? The visit of Atleti to the Camp Nou this Saturday. Having lost the corresponding fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season, this head-to-head clash is decisive, for better or for worse!
Current position: 4th (70 points)
Next fixture: Real Madrid (away) – Sunday 9th May, 9pm CEST
Remaining fixtures: Valencia CF (home), Villarreal CF (away), D. Alaves (home)
Seven victories in their last nine games have given Sevilla a mathematical title shot. Driven by the goals of Youssef En-Nesyri, the creative ability of Ivan Rakitic and Lucas Ocampos, and the tactical nous of Julen Lopetegui, the Andalusians are also now just seven points away from surpassing their historical record for points, set in 2014-2015 (76).
Having already wrapped up Champions League qualification for next season, Sevilla have made the LaLiga title chase a four-horse race. But they face a difficult run-in which will test their mettle, facing Real Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal – all of which have represented LaLiga in Europe in recent seasons – before a final test away at D. Alaves, who could still be battling for survival on the final day of the season.