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Pole Position – La Liga crown is still in the hands of Real Madrid
- Updated: 10 April, 2012
While the Easter weekend may have delivered the final nail in the coffin in terms of the English Premier League title race, results in Spain over the past couple of days have resurrected the race for the 2012 La Liga crown.
Three weeks ago Pep Guardiola’s insisted that Barcelona’s chances of securing a fourth successive league title were all but dead and buried, but Real Madrid’s draw against Valencia on Sunday night has seen the gap now close to just four points. Make no mistake about it, Barcelona are right back in the hunt.
For Real Madrid, talk of the ultimate dream that they could win the title at the Nou Camp has quickly subsided. And while the game in a couple of weeks has already prompted mass media hysteria and premature billing of the ‘biggest title decider in history’ we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Real Madrid could still actually afford to taste defeat in el Clásico and still win the title.
So with that in mind, here is a step by step guide as to what awaits Real Madrid in their search for the La Liga crown that they so desperately crave.
Atletico Madrid (A)
A quick jaunt down the road to the Vicente Calderon is first up for Jose Mourinho’s troops as they look to secure the bragging rights in Madrid for yet another season. Despite Saturdays 2-0 defeat at Levante, Atletico have enjoyed resurgence since Diego Simeone took charge at Christmas and even the most confident of Real Madrid fans would be foolish to write this down as a ‘gimme’. However, history is on their side and los Blancos haven’t lost against their city rivals since 30 October 1999.
Sporting Gijon (H)
On the other hand, this one could be just that. Sporting Gijon find themselves firmly rooted rock bottom of the table and are showing little to suggest that a revival is just around the corner. A trip to the Bernabeu is the last thing that they will want and you half get the feeling that they would take up the offer of a one or two goal defeat. Madrid won the reverse fixture 3-0 back in December.
While this one will undoubtedly be billed as ‘the big one’ the second league el Clásico of the season is one that Real Madrid don’t desperately need to win – providing they do their job in their other remaining games. A historic and proud club like Real Madrid would never admit to it, but they would snatch your hand off at the offer of a draw. It will be a game that will be hyped up to the maximum, with hope that the two will produce their stunning best, however with nerves bound to be abundant, a scrappy – by el Clásico standards- may ensue.
It has been a frustrating season for Sevilla who have failed to kick on from last season’s fifth place finish. And while the possibility of Champions League qualification should not be written off just yet, they do face an uphill battle to finish in the top four. Sunday’s defeat to Athletic Bilbao means that Sevilla sit in eighth place, six points short of Levante who currently cling on to the final qualification spot.
Real Madrid should have enough to make that dream even more distant and with Sevilla struggling for goals it could only take a couple from Madrid to end the contest.
The Basques may have taken the Europa League by storm this season but in La Liga their form can be best described as ‘patchy’. Nonetheless a trip to San Mames is not one to be taken lightly and with the natives preparing for a role as the twelfth man, Real Madrid will have to be at their scintillating best to emerge with the three points that they will so desperately crave.
As per any promoted club Granada’s first aim this season would be to ensure that they extended their La Liga journey into next season, and as things stand they look like doing just that. They may not be thrilling to watch, but Abel Resino has built a team that can compete in the country’s top division. However competing will Real Madrid is a different matter altogether and when you consider that they got thrashed 5-1 at the Bernabeu earlier this season, the omens don’t look good for Granada preventing anything other than an away win.
With nine points separating them from the relegation zone, Mallorca look like they have done enough to ensure that the final weeks of the season should pass with little worry. If this is to be the case then it is likely that this game will subconsciously at least, be classified as a non event for the island based team. Thoughts may be turning to summer holidays rather than putting up a decent fight. Even if this isn’t the case, then it is hard to see them resisting a Real Madrid team who could be in the need of a win to seal the title.
The title race is going down to wire. However if Jose Mourinho’s side can avoid defeat at the Camp Nou and hold their nerve in their remaining games, they may just have done enough the wrestle the title from the hands of their Catalan rivals.Follow @icentrocampista