It all comes down to three teams, three games but only one can be crowned the champion of Spain. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have three finals to play, unfortunately for the scripts and also for the two Madrid clubs, either of them won’t be facing Barcelona anymore.
Both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid would gladly exchange any team in their last three games for Barcelona right now as they would see their best chance of usurping the Catalans. Barcelona have destiny in their hands but do they deserve to be Champions?
Barcelona’s early dominance
It would be crazy to suggest Barcelona does not deserve to win the La Liga even though lately they haven’t played like champions in the run of games they played before taking on La Liga’s worst teams in Deportivo and Sporting Gijon. Quite rightly, Barcelona let it slip, if they didn’t nobody would be talking about a title race in Spain. They probably iced the champagne too soon and maybe they should suffer the consequences of losing focus but what they have done early in the season should more than enough.
The 39 games unbeaten run, turning football into cricket scores with plethora of goals and the delight the MSN have served. Their head to head advantage over both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were well earned especially against Real Madrid where they won four-nil at the Bernabeu without needing the help of their talisman Lionel Messi.
So, Barcelona have suffered a blip at the tail end of the season but they have done enough early in the season to allow a break down and still go ahead to win the title. Only Valencia did not suffer a defeat in the hands of Barcelona this season. Apart from them, the rest have been beaten and that is what champions do.
Atletico Madrid’s hung tight and should be rewarded
Atletico hung in there even when they had no business pushing on. When your school teacher preached hardwork and perseverance pays, he/she meant Atletico Madrid. The unrivaled stubbornness of this team and sheer determination must have been irritant to Barcelona but for neutrals it simply meant there was something to look out for in Spain however little it was.
If Atletico Madrid managed a draw against Sporting Gijon some weeks back, they would be top at the moment but a late goal by the home side meant they aren’t. Atletico Madrid has the best defence in Spain and don’t forget the saying that goes “defence wins you championships” – teams who are close to Atletico’s defence or better such as PSG and Bayern Munich with 18 and 14 goals conceded are either top or have won their respective leagues.
Only Barcelona have best Diego Simeone in two games but even the Catalans haven’t won more than Atletico Madrid in the league neither have any team won more points away from home than Atletico Madrid (40), with Barcelona having four less which suggest they are solid across board, both home or away. Heart, fight and solidity are all the making of a worthy champion.
Real Madrid’s comeback
What a story this would be for Zinedine Zidane if Real Madrid can pull off the unthinkable. After Real Madrid’s defeat to neighbors Atletico Madrid, Zidane conceded that the title chase was all but over and at some point, Real were 13 points behind Barcelona but they now find themselves only one point behind.
For Hollywood script and for the romantics this is an amazing comeback that should only be crowned with a victory and that is the title itself. On the significance of the El Clasico, Real Madrid would have been excused for seeking a draw or even losing it considering they were 10 points away and they had an important Champions League game to play. A man down after Sergio Ramos was sent off, Real Madrid created more chances than the host and deservedly won the game. From that point, Real Madrid didn’t throw-in the towel and they have crawled, walked and chased after the rest.
Real Madrid has arguably the best squad in La Liga and their comeback is down to their squad members who have contributed one or two things. If Real Madrid wins the La Liga it won’t be by luck or crook, they have scored more goals (104) than the rest and also lost the least number of games in the league (4). Currently the most in form team in the league with only one defeat in their last 15 games, Real Madrid are setting all their wrongs earlier in the season to right. Like Sir Alex famous called the closing stages of the season ‘Squeaky bum time’, Real Madrid have raised their game in the final stretch which is mostly the most important stage of the season.
Follow Joseph Bassey on Twitter – @akajoebass