La Liga in Spain is back after a three-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. La Liga Santander resumed with Matchday 28 fixtures where Real Madrid secured a 3-1 win against Eibar at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano and Barcelona responded with a 4-0 win at Mallorca..
It means that FC Barcelona remain at the top of the La Liga table and lead second-placed Real Madrid by two points with ten rounds of matches to go. The race to the finish line becomes more exciting as the players from both teams are fresh after the unexpectedly long mid-season break. However, the remaining fixtures for both teams include a host of matches that will test their title credentials.
The 2019-20 La Liga season is all set to go down to the wire as both Real Madrid and Barcelona resumed the season with resounding victories. The only piece missing from this epic end to a competitive La Liga season is that these teams will not face each other in their remaining fixtures.
After the 0-4 thrashing of RCD Mallorca, wherein the little maestro, Lionel Messi produced another scintillating performance, grabbing one goal and two assists, FC Barcelona welcomed CD Leganes on Matchday 29.
Leganes sat 19th in the La Liga table with ten games to go before losing 2-0 to the Blaugrana at the empty Camp Nou. Their latest defeat makes it even more difficult for Leganes to avoid the drop this season.
Meanwhile Barcelona's win saw the prodigy Ansu Fati score and their 'Messiah', Leo Messi, get on the scoresheet for the second consecutive game. In the process, Barcelona extended their lead over Real Madrid to five points, having played a game more tahn Los Blancos.
In this article, we focus on FC Barcelona’s remaining fixtures and analyse whether they can outperform Real Madrid to successfully defend their La Liga title.
Barcelona's run of 2019-20 La Liga fixtures as they look to stave off Real Madrid in a tight title race:
Matchday 30- Sevilla v. Barcelona:
After the Leganes game, Barcelona face Sevilla away from home in a match that promises to be exciting.
The last meeting between these teams ended in a 4-0 win for the home side that also saw two Barcelona players receive a red card. Another reason why this fixture promises excitement is that Sevilla are looking to qualify for the Champions League.
Sevilla have lost only two games at home in the La Liga this season. Neither Barcelona nor Sevilla will be content if the match ends in a stalemate, which would mean two vital points dropped.
Matchday 31- Barcelona v. Athletic Bilbao:
After Sevilla, next up for Barcelona will be a home game against Athletic Bilbao who defeated the reigning La Liga champions in the Copa Del Rey, thereby ending their hopes of a 31st Copa title.
Athletic Bilbao are currently 10th in the La iga table, with 12 points separating them from the relegation zone. No team wants to lose a game when they are only twelve points above the relegation zone. While Bilbao have their reasons to win, Barcelona, of course, cannot afford to drop points in a title race as close as the one they are in.
Matchday 32- Celta Vigo v. Barcelona:
FC Barcelona then travels to Celta Vigo, a team that has been struggling this season and is floating just above the relegation zone in 17th position.
When the two teams met earlier this season, Barcelona thrashed Celta 4-1, with Lionel Messi grabbing a hattrick. Adding to the woes of Celta is the fact that their home record is worrying. They have lost more games than won at home this season and hosting a determined Barcelona is as tough a task as any.
Matchday 33- Barcelona v. Atletico Madrid:
After Celta, Barcelona faces Atletico Madrid in a match that could prove to be the title-decider. A win against Atletico will not only mean three points in the bag, but it will also boost the morale of the team in completing the La Liga season on a high.
A loss against Atletico is one Barcelona simply cannot afford at this point of time when Real Madrid are so close on their heels. Stats favour FC Barcelona in this particular fixture.
Atletico Madrid have not won a La Liga game against FC Barcelona since a 2-1 victory at home in 2010. However, the latest meeting between these Spanish giants ended in a 3-2 victory for the side from Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. It was Atletico's first win in ten matches against Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid are struggling to secure a Champions League spot. As on Matchday 29, they sit in 6th place in the Liga table, five points adrift of the automatic Champions League qualification spots.
Matchday 34- Villarreal v. Barcelona:
FC Barcelona’s unbeaten record against Villarreal dates back to 2008 when Villarreal surprised the reigning La Liga champions with a 1-2 victory away from home.
Villarreal's recent form, however, has been underwhelming as they have only won two out of their last five La Liga games. Even though one might argue that they have won both their games since the league's restart, it is tough to see Villareal beating a title-hunting Barcelona.
Matchday 35- Barcelona v. Espanyol:
Even though the fans will not be able to witness El Clasico in the remaining league fixtures, another derby is on the cards for the fans of Barcelona.
Espanyol faces Barcelona on Matchday 35 where they will look to cause an upset and make a dent in the Catalain club's hopes of winning another La Liga title. Barcelona have been unbeaten in this fixture in their last five matches, which makes it a daunting task for Espanyol to cause an upset, though.
Matchday 36- Real Valladolid v. Barcelona:
Real Valladolid are placed 14th in the La Liga table and are just seven points above the drop zone as on Matchday 29.
Last season, Barcelona won both their La Liga games against Valladolid and this season, they thrashed them 5-1 at Camp Nou. Valladolid’s ongoing battle to survive the drop zone has not been helped by their recent form. The Yellow Submarine have won just two of their last six games in the La Liga this season.
Beating Barcelona will be a tough proposition for Villareal, although they would fancy their chances of causing an upset. But it will be an uphill task for Villareal, given the form of both the teams.
Matchday 37- FC Barcelona v. Osasuna:
FC Barcelona are unbeaten in seven La Liga league games against Osasuna, winning five of these matches. Also, the last time Osasuna beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou was in 2008 when they shocked the current league leaders with a 0-1 win.
With this fixture set to be played at the Camp Nou, it is highly likely that Barcelona will win and cement their place at the top of the table.
Matchday 38- Alaves v. FC Barcelona:
In the last league match of the 2019-20 La Liga season, Barcelona will travel to Alaves, looking to secure their 27th Spanish top-flight title.
Given the recent form of Deportivo Alaves, it seems almost impossible to see a way how they could produce a result against Barcelona as they are currently on a three-game winless streak in La Liga.
If the trend were to continue when the two teams meet, Alaves will have nothing to lose and the onus will be on Barcelona to deliver the goods. As we all know, the greatness of a team is defined by how well they perform under pressure, something Barcelona have proved with aplomb on numerous occasions in the past.
What goes in favour of FC Barcelona in home games, as far as stats are concerned, is that they are undefeated in at home in the La Liga this season. Camp Nou has turned into a fortress for Barcelona. Apart from Atletico Madrid, no other team, with all due respect, seems to have the firepower to challenge Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
FC Barcelona's hopes of winning their third consecutive La Liga title would depend on the form and fitness of their captain Lionel Messi.
In the first La Liga game since the COVID-19 outbreak, Lionel Messi was a doubtful starter after suffering a thigh injury. However, Lionel Messi played the game and went on to score a goal and provide two assists. What is more worrying for the Barcelona fans, however, is whether their team would hold out physically as they are slated to play their remaning nine La Liga games in the space of four weeks.
This La Liga league race is turning into an El Clasico of its own. It will be intriguing to see who wins this race and secure the La Liga title that will be remembered for long, just like the 2013/14 title that Atletico Madrid won on the last day of the season against FC Barcelona.