Barcelona’s walk to another inevitable La Liga has hit a speed bump the last two weekends, and as a result we have a three-way title race in Spain.
Heading into the recent international break Barcelona had a 9 point lead over Atletico Madrid and the title seemed destined to be staying in Catalaan for another season. But after back to back league defeats their lead cut to three points with six games to play.
This weekend it was 9th-place Real Sociedad who once again proved a tricky trip for Luis Enrique’s side. Barca have won only twice in their last 10 league trips to Anoeta Stadium. The last Barca manager to win their was Frank Rijkaard back in the 2006-07 season.
So it should not have been a surprise when Mikel Oyarzabal put the hosts ahead just five minutes into the game. What was the surprise was that Barca once again was misfiring in front of goal. Despite dominating with 74% possession, Barca only created 13 chances, of which just 6 were on target.
Barca’s defeat opens the door for Atletico Madrid, who earlier in the day thumped 12th-place Espanyol away from home. The hosts went ahead through Pape Diop’s opener in the 29th minute, but Fernando Torres (35th minute), Antoine Griezmann (58th) and Koke (89th) hit back over the game’s final hour to make it eight wins in their last 10 league games (one draw).
Also making the most of Barca’s recent results are Real Madrid, who sit a single point behind Atleti and four behind the leaders after hammering Eibar, 4-0, at the Santiago Bernabeu. James Rodriguez opened the scoring with a stunning free kick in the 5th minute. Lucas Vazquez doubled the lead on 18 minutes, and Cristiano Ronaldo (30th league goal of the season) made it three a minute later. Jese Rodriguez completed the scoring in the 39th minute. That’s six straight victories for Los Blancos, by a combined score of 22-4.
So with six games left Barca have 76 points, Atletico 73 and Real Madrid 72. The last six games for each title contender are below. Atletico have 4 of their last six games while Real Madrid have only two home games left. Who do you think the schedule favors?
Deportivo La Coruna A
Sporting Gijon H
Real Betis A
Athletic Club A
Rayo Vallecano H
Celta Vigo H
Rayo Vallecano A
Real Sociedad A
Deportivo La Coruna A