Barcelona becomes the latest club to stumble with a chance to stake a claim for the title, setting up a four-team sprint over the final five games.
It was all there for Barcelona. With five games to go in La Liga’s season, Barcelona could have controlled its own destiny in the quest to win the title, and by extension, secure a domestic double.
Considering where Barcelona was eight months ago and still, in many ways, is, at least from a business standpoint, that is quite outrageous to comprehend. Only the Blaugrana sputtered. Hosting a Granada team that had never won at Camp Nou before, Barcelona blew a 1–0 lead, capitulating in a 2–1 defeat on Thursday that also featured manager Ronald Koeman being sent off.
Instead of doing what it could to inch away from the pack, it joined its fellow challengers in failing to issue a statement of intent. Atlético Madrid was the biggest beneficiary, with Diego Simeone’s side instead emerging as the one in control of its destiny with all clubs having played 33 matches entering the weekend.
It’s still a tight, four-team race. Atlético Madrid’s 73 points are two more than Real Madrid and Barcelona’s 71 and three more than Sevilla’s 70. With one head-to-head meeting between Barcelona and Atlético Madrid and another between Real Madrid and Sevilla on the books for the weekend of May 8–9, there could be yet another significant twist or two in the race.
Another reason why Barcelona will be kicking itself for letting Thursday’s result slip away is that it’s not in the driver’s seat if things remain so tight. Real Madrid holds the tiebreaker vs. Barcelona after completing its Clásico sweep, while Atlético Madrid won the first matchup against Barcelona. A loss or draw on May 8 likely spells curtains for Lionel Messi & Co.
But on the other hand, no team will grab this race and run with it. Atléti led by double digits in January but has repeatedly dropped points to open the race back up. Real Madrid has even drawn in two of its last three league games with a chance to go top. Sevilla, meanwhile, is the hottest team of them all, with the club having five straight wins and an eight-match unbeaten run (7-0-1). How fitting and poetic would it be if Sevilla pipped the three Super League wannabes to the title?
Hay Liga—but only because the three chief and perennial contenders won’t get out of their own way.
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