Does Anyone Want To Win La Liga?

That's the question in Spain after Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico all slipped up on a weekend of shocks. Barcelona will be kicking themselves the most...

Last Updated: 06/05/14 at 11:00 Post Comment

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Well, that was just plain stupid.

The usual way of chasing down leaders in a spookily relentless manner and gaining ground in the last straight is to win the dead easy games and hope for mistakes from rivals.

What the non-prescient Barcelona players didn't realise is that the second part of that strategy was to take place on Sunday with Atlético Madrid losing 2-0 at Levante in a rare sign of vulnerability, and Real Madrid stuffing things up royally with a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia.

Unfortunately for the Catalan club, this double disaster for their two rivals meant bugger all for Barcelona, a team that had made a compete hash of a match against Getafe to leave what would have been a fairly decent chance of winning La Liga in complete pee-sodden tatters.

Had bungling Barça not conceded an injury-time goal against struggling Getafe then Tata Martino's side would have been sitting pretty with 87 points, just one behind the league leaders with two games to play, including a final day showdown with Atletico. The fact that they host Atleti at Camp Nou is even more reason for Barcelona to be screaming "noooooooooo!" to the heavens on their collective knees.

"We lost the league, we've said goodbye to the season," shrugged the furious Xavi Hernández, who once again watched his dithering defence fail to deal with an aerial ball with seconds left on the clock. "We are the ones to blame," fumed Sergi Busquets, "we've made mistakes that professionals playing in these league should not be doing."

In fact, so traumatic was the 2-2 draw against a flimsy team fighting relegation, and the drop in points by both Atlético and Real, that the Barcelona press immediately started to report on talks with Luis Enrique, former player and current Celta Vigo boss, to become the team's next manager. It was almost as though they didn't want to face the awful truth of a huge opportunity missed.

Madrid were another team to fail to take advantage of Atlético's defeat, despite playing after their city rivals and knowing exactly the chance that had been handed to them on a plate with grapes as relish.

Although the 2-2 draw at home to Valencia does not exactly look great, matters could have been a whole bag of spanners worse with Madrid going into the final seconds of the game losing 2-1 to a team with supposedly nothing at stake for the rest of the season.

"We paid for it," said the regretful Ancelotti on the team's Champions League efforts against Bayern during the week. Cristiano Ronaldo was again Real's saviour by channeling his inner Zlatan with a reverse Kung Fu kick to give Madrid a last-gasp 2-2 draw.

The Champions League finalists are now in third place, five points behind Atleti but with three games left. Their game in hand is at Valladolid on Wednesday, a match that could be Spain's equivalent of the wet Wednesday night in Stoke. Except warmer. And easier.

Despite the various permutations, the team that still has destiny in its own hands is Atlético Madrid. If Diego Simeone's side wins the next two games then the Calderón club will be league champions for the first time in nearly 20 years - the first time in a decade that a third side apart from the usual Primera pair will be taking that prize.

Ever the optimist, the club's manager wanted to put a positive spin on the defeat to gritty Levante arguing that it was the best thing that could happen to his players, to help focus minds over the rest of the month in three games that could produce an astonishing double. Or nothing at all, aside from the admiration of the planet and ruining Jose Mourinho's day. Again.

Such is the madness at the top of La Liga this season, that the league title race could all be over on Sunday evening when the three teams play together, with the right set of results for Atlético, who are home to Málaga. But just as easily, there could be a massive swing in the direction of the league title, a swing that almost took place last weekend. Almost.

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter

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