The La Liga title race has become a three-horse race in recent weeks as the three teams involved have a genuine chance of winning the league. While the usual suspects, Barcelona and Real Madrid, are two of them, the third team is not Atletico Madrid akin to recent years. Instead, it is Jorge Sampaoli’s high-flying Sevilla that have surprised everyone and are well in the title race.
Atletico Madrid failed to hit the heights of previous season and are all but out of the title race as they sit 11 points behind current leaders Barcelona. Their city rivals Real Madrid on the other hand, have occupied the top spot since gameweek 9 and dropped out recently due to a loss in form. In fact, it is their own doing that the remaining two teams are back in the title race. They are currently one point behind Barcelona and have a game in hand over the Catalans.
Barcelona struggled this season as their summer signings failed to click and their midfield struggled in what is Luis Enrique’s last season as Barcelona manager. The recent thrashing at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League looked to have all but sealed a disastrous campaign. However, tweaks in formation and an upturn in form signalled steadying of the ship and Real Madrid’s drop in form means the defending champions sit at the top of the La Liga table.
Also Read – 5 reasons why Barcelona can still win La Liga
When Unai Emery, three-time Europa League winner with Sevilla, left for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, there definitely would not have been any expectations of being in the place the Andalusians find themselves now. Their performances have pleasantly surprised many and they currently find themselves five points from the top albeit with a game in hand and possessing an outside chance to win their first league title since 1946/47 season.
Every fixture now assumes importance as the title race heats up and Atletico Madrid can still play a role in which team is crowned champions despite being virtually out of the race themselves.
Here are the 5 key fixtures that will define the La Liga title race between now and the end of the season.
#5 Espanyol vs Barcelona – 30th April
The Derbi barceloni is a significant fixture between local rivals Espanyol and Barcelona that arose from ideological and political differences over the decades. Although the rivalry has mostly been one-sided with Barcelona winning 93 games to Espanyol’s 34 out of a total of 163 games between the clubs.
However, the fixture at RCDE stadium is always a feisty affair and Espanyol have drawn two of the last five meetings at the stadium. Even a draw will make a difference in the title race at this stage of the season and this match could prove to be a potential banana skin for Barcelona.