Home football Real Madrid, Atletico, Barcelona and Sevilla – LaLiga title race is now...

Real Madrid, Atletico, Barcelona and Sevilla – LaLiga title race is now a FOUR-way battle

111
0

Not since 2003 has the Spanish title race been this close. It was Real Madrid, Deportivo and Real Sociedad contesting the crown 18 years ago, with just a point separating them with eight games left.

Now it’s Atletico Madrid who have the one point advantage over Real Madrid, with Barcelona a further point behind and Sevilla six adrift of the leaders.

Sportsmail takes a look at all the deciding factors with the four-horse race set to go down to the wire on May 23.

THE RUN-IN

Atletico Madrid

First up, Diego Simeone’s team are home to the worst team in the league right now, Eibar. They should win that despite their injury problems.

They then host another relegation-candidate in Huesca before trips to Elche and Athletic. In theory, they are four very winnable fixtures. They then go to Barcelona before home games against Real Sociedad and Osasuna.

Valladolid at home is their last game. They’ll hope the visitors are already safe by then.

Real Madrid

Madrid only have three more games outside of the city. This weekend, they’re away but it’s a short trip south to capital neighbours Getafe.

After that they go to Cadiz and then it’s three on the bounce at home to Betis, Osasuna and Sevilla.

They visit Granada and Athletic before winding up at Villarreal whose season could be over – safe in Europa League spots – by then.

Barcelona

After this weekend’s Cope del Rey final, in which they romped to victory, Barca will be playing catch-up again on league fixtures, hosting Getafe before going away to Villarreal.

If they come out of those two unscathed, a home game with Granada and a trip to Valencia look easier.

Then it’s Atletico and then their last three matches look relatively straightforward away at Levante, home to Celta Vigo, and away to Eibar who could be down already.

Sevilla

Julen Lopetegui’s side are away at Real Sociedad at the weekend. They then go to Levante before hosting Granada and Athletic Bilbao.

Then they host Real Madrid. If they are still in the hunt after that then their last three don’t look too bad: home to Valencia, away to Villarreal and home to Alaves.

SO WHAT’S THE CRUCIAL FIXTURE FOR EACH THEN?

Atletico Madrid

Barca is the toughest on paper but trips to Elche and Athletic Bilbao will also be difficult.

Real Madrid

Getting something from these next two games against Getafe and Cadiz, away, might not be so straightforward. Then Sevilla at home becomes huge, now they are back in the fight.

Barcelona

Away to Villarreal and home to Atletico are the stand-out potential slip-ups.

Sevilla

This weekend is huge. If they lose to La Real, they are back out of the race.

THE DISTRACTIONS

Atletico Madrid

There are no distractions and that may be Simeone’s greatest advantage. It’s all about the next eight fixtures.

And not only are his players playing for the title. Many such as Saul Niguez, Jose Gimenez, Moussa Dembele and Renan Lodi are playing for their future.

Real Madrid

Their supporters are dreaming of a 14th European Cup – Zidane’s players will need to avoid doing likewise during the remaining league games.

Barcelona

The cup final took precedence this weekend and their emphatic victory can have a galvanising effect on the league run-in.

The future direction of the club is also up in the air: everyday the carousel of possible new signings spins and wherever it stops they land on the front pages. The focus ought really to be on this season not next.

Sevilla

They are just glad to still being talked about as contenders. They have the focus and also the lack of pressure.

PHYSICAL SHAPE

Atletico Madrid

They will be without Joao Felix against Eibar this weekend, although he is aiming to be back against Huesca.

Trippier has lower back problems but is hoping to be able to soldier on. Dembele is back in training and could feature on Sunday.

The on-loan French forward could make all the difference if he can get fully fit but it will not be easy, as he has been struggling with coronavirus.

Real Madrid

Twenty players have been out injured for Real Madrid so far this season.

There have been 50 injuries in total and Hazard, Ramos and Carvajal alone have missed 77 games.

No wonder Zidane said at the weekend he could not say how they would get through the season. Against Liverpool they had a midfielder – Fede Valverde – at right back because of shortages.

Suspensions are arriving too with Casemiro out of Sunday’s game because of a red card while they have been able to take just 13 senior players – and three senior defenders – to Getafe. That puts more pressure on others who could do with a rest.

Barcelona

It’s been a tough season for Gerard Pique missing 29 matches in total but he now looks to be fit for the last eight matches.

Koeman could have a full compliment of options – apart from Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati.

Sevilla

The outsiders will be at full-strength for the weekend game against Real Sociedad.

They even have January loan signing Papu Gomez looking sprightly and if they can keep everyone fit that gives them something the other three maybe don’t have.

MENTAL CONDITION

Atletico Madrid

Despite the fact that they were physically on their last legs against Betis last weekend, Atletico Madrid were camped in the Betis penalty area in injury time.

‘When the legs can get you there the heart has to’ is one of Simeone’s mantras. Staying top gave them a huge psychological boost.

It’s true that Atletico have gone from picking up 51 points from the first 57 available to just 17 of the last 33, but Simeone seems to have genuinely expected the tailing off.

He still believes this can be done so the players will too.

Real Madrid

Mentally they are on the moon right now. This was meant to be the transition season they stumbled behind Atletico Madrid in the league and were taught humbling lessons in Europe.

Instead they can smell a double. Despite the injuries, they are beginning to feel indestructible.

Barcelona

A lot depended on this weekend and how the cup went and victory, in the manner they achieved it felt significant.

A handsome win against Athletic Bilbao sets Koeman’s side up nicely to go after the league title.

Sevilla

Julen Lopetegui marked up win No 60 in game No 100 as Sevilla coach on Monday in that 4-3 win over Celta.

They have had their morale dip after going out of the cup and Champions League early.

Everyone’s feeling positive once more but it won’t last if they lose another game.

They probably have to win every match left