Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Unless something unlikely happens in the English Premier League, the annual Barcelona – Real Madrid title race in the Spanish La Liga is the only one worth following among the top leagues around Europe.

Only two points separate the two clubs following Barcelona’s away draw with Sevilla. A reasonable result against a club that’s trying to finish in the top 4 and make their return to the Champions League, but one that’s brought on some new hope to Real Madrid, who have won their three matches since losing in El Clasico, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one.

Unlike last season, Atletico Madrid aren’t a factor. They’ve fallen seven points behind Real Madrid and nine behind Barcelona. They’ll be trying to fend off Valencia and Sevilla, but they won’t be defending their shocking La Liga title from last season.

Both teams (Atletico as well actually) still have the Champions League to worry about, so that can play a factor, although both of them aren’t going to make sacrifices right now for the continental competition like Real Madrid made last season once they saw the league title slipping away from them. Not when Barcelona haven’t won last season, and not when Real Madrid have failed to finish first in Spain in five of the last six seasons, an eternity in Real Madrid terms.

So what’s left for both teams to plow through in order to finish on top? Barcelona have probably a slightly more difficult set of matches, but it’s worth remembering that they’ve lost just once in the league since January 4, winning 12 of 14 matches. Their remaining schedule includes Valencia, Getafe, Real Sociedad and Deportivo (season finisher) at home; Espanyol, Cordoba and Atletico Madrid away.

For Real Madrid, it’s Malaga, Almeria, Valencia and Getafe (season finisher) at home; Celta, Sevilla and Espanyol away.

A few similar matches, with the big difficulties being Atletico away for Barcelona and Sevilla away for Real Madrid. Barcelona, just a reminder, have already won at the Vicente Calderon this season. There’s also the Atletico factor to consider of not wanting Real Madrid to win the title, but it might also depend on how they’re fairing in the Champions League. You might’ve forgotten, but there’s a Madrid derby in the UCL quarterfinals with two more matches between two teams that have already played six times this season.

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