La Liga Fixture List: 6 Games to Decide the Title in 2013-14
You can never really predict where the title will be won and lost, but looking ahead at next season's La Liga fixtures is proving as exciting as ever.
Who would have thought that Real Madrid would come unstuck every time they visited Andalusia last season? And who would have tipped Barcelona to not beat Los Blancos, yet still canter to the title by 15 points?
Games involving Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Valencia and many others could be pretty tasty this year, but as ever the champions will likely come from Barca or Madrid.
Over the following slides, B/R take a look ahead to the matches which could help determine where the 2013-14 trophy will be heading.
*All dates mentioned are likely to be altered two-four weeks before the game.
Valencia vs. Barcelona
Surprises often happen at the beginning of the season, with the big two taking time to hit fifth gear after a disorientated summer.
With that in mind, Real Madrid will be grateful with what the computer threw up for the early matches; Barcelona not so.
In their first four games, La Blaugrana tackle two difficult away trips. They first head to La Rosaleda to take on Malaga and then they travel down the coast to meet Valencia at the Mestalla on September 1.
What makes these away games look even more tricky is the fact that Barca have a two-legged Spanish Supercopa tie against Atletico Madrid to navigate around them.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scored twice each in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Camp Nou last season, and then a weakened Real Madrid side beat Barcelona at the Bernabeu 2-1.
It carried little weight in terms of the title race, though.
The season before, all the weight was carried in this fixture. Ronaldo silenced Catalunya as Madrid all but won the title in Barca's back yard.
Transfer dealings so far in the current window suggest that the two old enemies could be as close as ever next season. If that's to be the case, the Clasicos on October 27 and March 23 could be quite revealing.
Valencia vs. Real Madrid
Apart from that trip to Camp Nou in October, Real Madrid's travels prior to 2014 look fairly straightforward on paper.
However, just before Christmas, they head to the Mestalla—by which point Miroslav Djukic could either have Valencia firing on all cylinders or have been sacked.
If it's the former, which is more expected, Madrid won't have it their own way.
On top of that, Los Blancos may have memories of their last pre-winter break game when Malaga trumped them 3-2.
Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona
Last January, Barcelona were beaten 3-2 by Real Sociedad at Anoeta after having led 2-0.
In the forthcoming season, they'll make the same trip north in February, and they will be wary of coming unstuck in a similar manner.
It will come just a month after they've made another difficult trip to the Spanish capital to take on Atletico Madrid at the beginning of January.
Navigating through those tricky away matches will prove key if Tito Vilanova's men are to retain the title.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
Now that Atletico Madrid have partied like it's 1999—the last time they beat their city rivals—following their Copa del Rey success, they may feel more confident ahead of this season's derby matches.
They welcome Real Madrid to the Vicente Calderon on March 2, 2014.
Atleti will be hoping a win will not just disrupt any title dreams Real may have at that point, but that they will also be in the mix for the title.
If they get to March with a chance, then beat Los Blancos, there will be a real feel that Atleti could do the unthinkable.
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
When you see fixtures like this pencilled in for the ultimate day of the season, May 18, you almost get the feeling the title race is going to be drawn out until the very end.
Or at least, as a neutral, you'd hope so.
Not only do Barca host Atleti—Madrid's city rivals—but Real Madrid play host to Barcelona's other team, Espanyol, at the Bernabeu.
On top of all that, would it be too much to ask for Atletico Madrid to still be in the title race by that point?