MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 29: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid FC celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on March 29, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo : (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) )
The Spanish League title race is the closest it has been in years and things got a lot more interesting this past weekend as the top three contenders managed to overcome big tests and won.
Barcelona started the weekend off with a 1-0 win over Espanyol in the Catalonia derby. The contest seemed destined for a draw until a penalty goal from Messi (his third this week) separated the title contenders from its mediocre rivals. With the win, Barcelona obtained 75 points.
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Atletico Madrid had the biggest test of the weekend as it visited San Mames to take on Athletic Bilbao. Real Madrid tied in its visit to San Mames, while Barcelona was defeated there earlier this season; that made for a rather interesting scenario. Diego Costa and Koke continued to do what they have been doing all year for the club and gave it a much needed 2-1 lead to remain atop the league standings. The final seven games of the season should be interesting for both sides as it is possible that the final meeting between Atletico and Barcelona could ultimately decide the champion of the league.
Real Madrid had the easiest test of the evening as the side faced off against Rayo Vallecano at home. The visiting side played very well despite losing 5-0, but the real test for Los Blancos proved to be their own supporters who whistled and booed the team throughout.
The win puts Madrid in third place with 63 points, but with seven games to go, Carlo Ancelotti's side looks less likely to win the title. In order for that to happen Madrid must win its final seven games. Of that conclusion there can be no doubt. But the team also needs a LOT of help. The final match of the season between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will decide the champion but a draw is essential for Real Madrid in that game. That would ensure that at worse, Madrid would be one point behind Atletico from a theoretical perspective; Madrid would also be tied with Barcelona. But in this scenario, Madrid would remain in third due to a tiebreaker. In order for Madrid to also manage to overcome its two foes, both need at least one loss the rest of the way. If Barcelona and Atletico lost a game and tied the final one, then they would end up with 91 and 92 points respectively; Real Madrid would have 94 points if it won every single remaining game. Of course a two draws for its biggest rivals would also do the trick as Barcelona would end up with 92 points and Atletico would have 93.
But Madrid's schedule is rather tricky. The team visit Real Sociedad, a side that took down Barcelona; Los Blancos also have to deal with a resurgent Valencia. Fortunately five of the seven games are at home, making these expectations reasonable. But what game can anyone expect Barcelona and Atletico to lose? Los Rojiblancos could lose against Valencia on the road while Barcelona could reasonably lose points at Villarreal.
Will Real Madrid win the Spanish League title?