Barça Handed Initiative in Title Race as Atleti Stumble

May 09, 2016 by Alex Baker

Atletico Madrid suffered a shock loss to Levante on Sunday, while Barcelona and Real Madrid both cruised to wins – over Espanyol and Valencia respectively. The loss to Levante, who sit rock bottom of the table and are already relegated to the Segunda Division next season, effectively eliminates Atleti from the title race.

With one round of matches remaining, Barcelona sit top on 88 points with Real Madrid in second on 87. Atletico sit in third on 85 points. But even if the other two were to lose next weekend, Barça’s superior head-to-head would still make them champions.

Barcelona Title Favorites

Without the distraction of Champions League football, Barcelona are now overwhelming favorites heading into the final weekend’s action against Granada. The Catalan outfit seems to have recovered nicely from their untimely dip in form several weeks ago. On Sunday, against local rivals, Espanyol, it took Lionel Messi just eight minutes to open the scoring.

Luis Suarez added a brace of his own in the second half, before Rafinha and Neymar both joined in on the scoring to make it 5-0 for Barça. Despite their disappointing exit from Europe, Barcelona are in the driver’s seat to retain the La Liga title and are also favorites in the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla later this month.

Real Madrid in With a Shot

Barcelona might have lifted the La Liga trophy already had not Real Madrid eked out a win over a dogged Valencia side at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. Cristiano Ronaldo scored midway through the first half to give Real the lead before Karim Benzema doubled the advantage minutes before the halftime whistle.

Rodrigo pulled one back for Valencia in the second half, but moments later Ronaldo scored again to restore the two-goal cushion for the home side. Valencia pulled another back late in the game but could not add to Andre’ Gomes’ late strike, resulting in a 3-2 win for Real. Zinedine Zidane’s men must maintain their winning ways against Deportivo La Coruna next weekend, while hoping that Barcelona drop points against Granada.

Atletico’s Title Hopes Dashed by Levante

Atletico’s title campaign looked to be well on course when Fernando Torres opened the scoring in just the second minute against Levante. However Victor Casadesus equalized for the home side 15 minutes before the break. As the clock ticked down, Atleti looked on course for a draw, which would’ve kept their narrow hopes of overhauling Barça for the title alive. However, Levante’s New Jersey-born Italian striker, Giuseppe Rossi broke the deadlock in extra time, sealing all three points for the relegated side and ending Atleti’s title bid. Their title campaign over, Atleti are now left to focus on their Champions League final showdown with Real Madrid later this month.

Watch the final round of La Liga action next Saturday, May 14 on BeINSports as Barcelona take on Granada, Real Madrid take on Deportivo and Atletico face Celta Vigo.

Check local listings for air-times.

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