• Dan Tracey


Lionel Messi for Barcelona in 1-2 defeat against Granada
Barcelona suffer 1-2 defeat against Granada in round 33 of La Liga

With the race to win this season’s La Liga being one that involved three horses, it was all set for one of those to pull into the distance on Thursday and if things went to plan, it would be Barcelona sitting top by the time this article was written.

However, the best laid plans have a habit of not coming to fruition and after Granada’s shock win at the Camp Nou, not only has the title race in Spain been blown wide open but Barcelona have spurned the most ideal of opportunities.

It was all going so well for Ronald Koeman’s men, as Lionel Messi netted halfway through the first half and at that point, you would have every right to believe a comfortable win for the hosts was on the horizon.

Then again, Granada had other ideas and after suffering a recent Europa League exit to Manchester United, you would think that their season was all but complete. Not so, and after a dramatic victory in Catalunya, their feint hopes of European qualification have been revived.

That’s because second half goals from Darwin Machis and Jorge Molina overturned their early deficit and by the time the latter had found the back of the net, it was a goal celebrated across the whole of Madrid.

To the point where Molina may never have to pay for another Tapas dinner in the Spanish capital and after securing a precious win for Granada, it is still advantage to both Atletico and crosstown rivals Real.

With five rounds of the Spanish season left remaining, Atletico Madrid find themselves two points clear of both their nearest challengers and although the margin of error is much smaller than it once was, it is still enough to clinch the La Liga crown.

Of course, that margin could have been even more, had Diego Simeone’s men not slipped up against Athletic Bilbao and it was that defeat in the Basque country which subsequently left the door open for Barcelona.

A door that they simply could not kick down on Thursday night against Granada and although first and third place meet on May 10th, a win there for Barcelona may only help the other element of ‘El Clasico’ instead.

Had Barcelona managed even a point on Thursday, the destiny of La Liga would still be in their own hands and they could have sneaked past Atletico before the finishing line. Now though, they will have to hope from dropped points elsewhere.

With that said, Real Madrid are not the swashbuckling side they once were and in what was a strange set of results across Spain, Zinedine Zidane’s men also failed to earn a league victory in their last outing.

Which means, there may be some hope yet for Lionel Messi and company, in Barcelona’s bid to come out on top. A bid that at this stage is not impossible, it’s just that they have made a whole lot more difficult that it needed to be.

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