LA LIGA RACE GOES TO THE WIRE
And then there were two. With Barcelona fluffing their lines in this La Liga title race play, it is down to Madrid to put forward a winner and come the end of Saturday we will discover just who will be crowned champions.
Going into the final weekend of the Spanish season, it is Atletico who find themselves at the top of the standings and although they at one time had a 10-point advantage to call their own, that has been largely eroded over the time.
However, Diego Simeone’s men have not buckled just yet and if there were any questions regarding their lack of fighting spirit, they certainly had the necessary answers when playing host to Osasuna last weekend.
After finding themselves going behind midway through the second half, it looked like being advantage Real and even though Renan Lodi found a late equaliser, it would be enough to see Zinedine Zidane’s men go top by virtue of a better head-to-head record.
That was until Luis Suarez was on hand to score a dramatic late winner and in doing so, he has managed to restore Atletico’s two-point lead at the top and if Real win their last encounter of the season, their local rivals will have to do exactly the same.
Because the favourable head-to-head record may just tilt matters into the hands of Los Blancos and if Atletico fail to get the better of Real Valladolid, the 13-time kings of Europe will be ready to take advantage.
On paper, a trip to Valladolid should be a relatively simple one and if you were a betting man, you would be largely inclined to place your smart money on an away win. However, there could be a plot twist in all of this.
One that sees the Jose Zorilla outfit trying their best to avoid demotion to the second tier and when you need a result to clinch the title, there can be nothing worse than going up against a team who is fighting for their lives.
While if there is an incredible late twist in all of this, Real Madrid will be in prime position to take over on the final lap and if they can get the better of Europa League finalists Villarreal, a considerable amount of pressure will fall on the red and white half of the capital
Not to mention with Villarreal having more than one eye on Gdansk next Wednesday, they may be in a position to coast to the end of the season. Then again, a win at the Santiago Bernabeu could be the difference between a Europa League and Europa Conference League insurance policy.
Which means Unai Emery’s men are not necessarily going to roll over either and they would love nothing more than to make life difficult for the championship chasers. A scenario which suggests that either here or in Valladolid, drama could set to unfold across a tense Saturday evening.