The three top clubs of Spain are in a heart-stopping race for the title. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid occupy the top two spots with 85 points apiece, though Barca has the edge with on goal differential by a large margin (75 to Atletico’s 44). But Real Madrid is right on the heels of both with 84 points of their own and and a goal differential of 73. There are two games remaining in the season and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be crowned the champions of Spain. And amidst all the excitement of La Liga, Real Madrid and Atletico will go head-to-head in the Champions League final in a rematch of the 2014 game.
Bringing up the bottom of the top four is Villarreal, sitting in a very distant fourth place with 64 points. However, the squad has been performing well in the Europa League. As of this writing, the team is preparing to face off against Liverpool in the semi-finals while seventh place Sevilla are locked in a close battle against Shakhtar Donetsk. The tipsters at Betfair think that Liverpool can come back in the second leg (more on that here), but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we’d like to see the Yellow Submarine win out. It would be pretty cool to see all Spanish finals in both the Europa League and the Champions League, even if none of those teams is Barcelona.
While Barca might be disappointed about a relatively early exit from the Champions League, this could be a blessing in disguise for them. Without the distraction of European soccer, Barcelona should be the fresher team on the pitch. The club will have to take on RCD Espanyol in the Barcelona Derby, but history is on their side. FC Barcelona’s official site notes that they handily beat the team twice in cup play along with one scoreless draw in the league. With those results for reference, we don’t anticipate any problems for Barcelona in the final derby of the year. Barca’s final match will be against Granada, who occupy the bottom half of the table. There’s no good reason the club shouldn’t be able to squeeze an easy six points out of their last couple matches although manager Luis Enrique admitted to ESPN that the league will come down to the wire.
Meanwhile, Atletico should be able to snag an easy win against the sure-to-be-relegated Levante, but they’ll face stiff competition from Celta Vigo in their final match of the season. Atletico recently escaped a fierce Champions League draw against Bayern Munich by the skin of their nose and will likely be exhausted for their next league match. Luckily for them, they happen to be playing the last place team in the league. However, Celta Vigo have presented problems for teams all season long and if Atletico is going to drop points it will happen during their final match. Real, for their part, will face a tough game against Valencia where they could drop points, but they shouldn’t have a problem winning their final match against 18th place Sporting Gijón.
If Barcelona can bring home their final six points, which they definitely should, they’ll be able to sew up the league. With a weaker remaining league schedule than either Atleti or Real, there’s no reason Barca can’t salvage yet another La Liga title out of the season.