La Liga Weekly

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Simon Heptinstall On March - 26 - 2012

La Liga: Where Does The Title Race Go From Here?

For many people (myself included) the Spanish league was over as a competition was once Real Madrid went ten points clear at the top. It wasn’t that Barcelona were any less of the great side that they were back in May when they had lifted the Champions League, it was simply that a Real Madrid team managed by Jose Mourinho would not relinquish a ten point lead. And yet after conceding late goals against Malaga and Villareal, their lead has been reduced to six points and with Madrid still having to go to the Nou Camp, the title race appears to be a long way from over.

Real Madrid of course remain favourites and with Barcelona’s patchy away form this season, they will be confident that they can hold off the challenge of the Catalan club. However Real Madrid’s recent blip in form and, perhaps even more worrying, their willingness to blame others rather than themselves, look like the signs of a team buckling under the pressure of landing the Primera División. Of course this is a team full of a quality and their demolition of Real Sociedad on Saturday night will do much to calm the nerves of players and fans around the Madrid club. But by showing any sign of weakness at all, they were always likely to let Barcelona back into the title race and that’s exactly what’s happened. Barcelona’s away win against Mallorca has shown that perhaps they are finding their feet on the road at last and if they are capable of replicating their sparkling home form on their travels, then maybe Barcelona might just come out on top once more.

Barcelona defeated Mallorca on Saturday night thanks to goals from Sanchez and Pique and despite Thiago seeing red, the Catalan giants held out for a priceless away win. Barcelona take on Ac Milan in the Champions League this mid week before taking on Zaragoza at home on Sunday. After that two of their next three games are at home before taking on high flying Levante away. Barcelona would expect to take full points from all those matches before taking on Real Madrid in the El Clasico on Sunday the 22nd of April. It goes without saying that this is the match that will have the biggest bearing on how the rest of the season goes.

Real Madrid have the harder looking fixtures in the next few weeks with away trips to Atletico Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona while also entertaining Valencia at home. However Real will be confident that they will be able to keep their six point lead over Barcelona intact before the two rivals meet at the Nou Camp. If they manage to do so then expect a very negative game of football from Los Blancos and Jose Mourniho. The Special One will go into the game with the belief that holding out for a draw will be enough to secure the title and end the Barcelona challenge once and for all.

So how will it turn out? Well the simple answer is no one knows. Barcelona seemed dead and buried a few weeks back and now they appear right back in with a chance. Real Madrid remain favourites and the title is still very much theirs to lose. Their hammering of Real Sociedad showed once again that they are a class apart from most team in the league and if they are capable of not letting pressure get to them as the season draws to a close, then there is still every chance they will lift the title come May.

Barcelona on the other hand know they just have to keep winning and hope Madrid slip up. And with the easier run in, they will certainly feel that the treble is very much on. The last game of the league season takes place May 13th. Six days later is the Champions League final, possibly against Real Madrid. Six days after that is the Copa del Rey final against Bilbao. For Barcelona, so much could be achieved in those two weeks. How it all turns out, only time will tell.

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