Barcelona Will Overtake Real Madrid, Win the La Liga Title
A few weeks ago, when the gap between Real Madrid and Barcelona was 10 points, I happily jumped on the bandwagon and admitted that the league was over—at least in terms of the battle for the title. However, now, even with a gap of six points, I just don't see anything other than Barcelona being crowned champions for the fourth year in a row.
It would have been great to add a little variety to the league winners—as backwards as that sounds when referring to La Liga—and Real Madrid taking the title from their rivals was sure to heat things up over the course of the next season or two. Honestly, having Real Madrid win the title will make both teams better and more competitive in the long run and it would be a fantastic spectacle for neutral fans.
However, when you look at the way Madrid have stumbled in recent weeks against Malaga and Villarreal, those two hugely disappointing draws coupled with Barcelona's resurgence out of their slump, it may all have come too suddenly for Jose Mourinho's men to hold their nerve.
On the face of it, it looks as though Barcelona have given themselves a new challenge to overcome; being the best—and I mean very best—for three years may have left Barcelona feeling a little lost and without motivation midway through this season. By seeing their rivals go 10 points clear, though, and the deafening cries from every angle that the season was over may have been enough of an injection of motivation to overcome this latest challenge. It's not exactly winning the treble in Pep Guardiola's first season, but overcoming this deficit would be hugely satisfying and greatly impressive.
The run in of the final eight games certainly looks to be too much for even Mourinho's side this season. Even at this point where I'm beginning to change my tune over who will win the league, I still believe Madrid were the best and most impressive side this season. The way they dispatched of Osasuna last weekend and one of the standout performances of the campaign against Valencia have shown just how far they've come since last season.
However, away games to Atletico and Bilbao, as well as the date at the Nou Camp sandwiched between the two Champions League semifinals, may be too much. Is there enough in the team to not only come out of these games undefeated but to win? Had the team beaten Malaga and Villarreal then there would certainly be a safety net with which to fall should a couple of slip-ups occur. At this stage there is almost no room for error, and that is the pressure that may get to the Madrid players.
Barcelona, on the other hand, look to be flying high again. Lionel Messi's recent record of top scorer for Barcelona looks to have ignited something in both he and the rest of his teammates. While a few months ago they might have struggled even against Zaragoza this weekend, most would now expect nothing but total domination.
They were aided greatly last weekend by Bilbao's commitments to the Europa League—something that is still unbelievable—but there were times this season that even Barcelona may have stumbled across a few problems against a weakened Bilbao side.
Again, it would be wrong to convey the idea that Madrid are not good enough to see out of last two months of the season—they are arguably one of the top two teams in world football—and there's certainly no running away from the possibility of Barcelona slipping up somewhere and even losing the Clasico.
However, even with a lead of six points, the last team in the world in the modern era of football you'd want breathing down your neck is Barcelona, and it absolutely would be a disappointment from a neutral perspective should Madrid fail to win the title.
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