One month ago Barcelona where twelve points clear at the top in La Liga and the Spanish title race was seemingly over. How times can change.
Barcelona’s shock 2-1 defeat at home to Valencia was their third straight defeat in the league for the first time since 2003. The nine point lead at the top has been cut to one. With only a point separating leaders Barcelona and third place Real Madrid.
In what is hotting up to be the closest La Liga title race in history, Barca appear to be exhausted whilst their rivals from Madrid, Atletico and Real, appear to be gathering speed before their sprint to the finish line after both recording comprehensive wins over Granada and Getafe at the weekend.
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona look disjointed and their explosive front three, who they rely so much upon, look desperate for a break.
Barcelona’s bad form has coinsided with everything going right for their rivals as Barca pick up one point from a possible twelve.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid ran riot at the weekend with and both will be full of confidence after impressive performances over recent weeks, not to mention their progression into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League last week.
The alarm bells started to ring on 20th March when Barcelona succumbed a two goal lead at Villarreal to draw 2-2. This was followed by a damaging ‘El Clasico’ defeat to Real Madrid which and a fourth defeat to Real Sociedad in La Liga in as many seasons.
So what is going wrong at Barcelona? Football Ticket Pad anticipated a Barcelona slip-up in their recent blog ‘Will Barcelona throw it all away?’
Since then, they have been knocked out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid and their last win was in the first leg of the tie before getting beat at the Vicente Calderon to be eliminated from the competition.
Atletico Madrid look unstoppable. Diego Simeone has built a team that is very tough to beat. They are well drilled and a horrible side to play against for any team in Europe, not just in Spain.
Their Madrid neighbours, Real, have Cristiano Ronaldo in fine form with the likes of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale duly providing worthy assistance as Zinedine Zidane searches for his first title as manager.
Looking at the remaining fixtures, you would say Barcelona have the most favourable run-in, despite looking like a team in disarray.
Messi, Suarez and Neymar are players who can change games in an instant and surely their slump will not go on for much longer.
The next few weeks are crucial for the Catalan giants. Their remaining five games are all against sides in the bottom half with an away trip to 13th place Deportivo La coruna next.
Enrique’s side then face another potential banana skin when they host derby opponents Espanyol on 8th May. However, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid both face much sterner tests in their final fixtures.
Atleti face Atletico Bilbao, Malaga and Celta Vigo in their remaining games all of whom are in the top eight.
Zinedine Zindane’s ‘Los Blancos’ have a tough encounter against Villarreal next and a win would be a massive boost if they are to keep the pressure on the two teams above them.
Both Madrid sides have Champions League commitments on their mind and face a couple of tricky games in La Liga on the way whilst Barca can focus their attention to their league commitments as they hope to clinch the title and extend their current lead at the top.
With it all to play for in Spain, Football Ticket Pad will be keeping a close eye on where the La Liga title will end up come end of the season.
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