After 18 years, Atletico Madrid are back atop the La Liga table:
Atletico Madrid are top of the table for the first time in 18 years! pic.twitter.com/ypUzh2RwDb— UpTheStakes (@UpTheStakes) February 2, 2014
On Sunday, Madrid got the three points which catapulted them to the top of the table with a dominant 4-0 performance over Real Socieadad.
That match was closer than the score suggested. In fact, Atletico Madrid were up just 1-0 into the 72nd minute. They then quickly turned it into a blowout.
Combine that with Barcelona's 2-3 loss to Valencia on Saturday and there is a new king atop the table.
Matchday 22 opened with a bang on Friday, Jan. 31 as Celta Vigo stunned Granada 2-1 on the strength of Augusto Fernandez's 88th-minute go-ahead strike. The result, which marks the Celts' second consecutive league victory, lifts the them over Granada in the La Liga table.
That wasn't the most shocking result of the weekend, however. That award goes to Barcelona, who lost their second match of the season to Valencia. The result gives Madrid—both Real and Atletico—the chance to overtake Barca in the table and take control of the top spot.
With Week 22 already underway, let's take a look at the latest La Liga table and results.
|Jan. 31||Granada||1-2||Celta Vigo|
|Feb. 1||Levante||0-0||Rayo Vallecano|
|Feb. 1||Getafe||0-0||Real Valladolid|
|Feb. 2||Real Betis||2-0||Espanyol|
|Feb. 2||Atletico Madrid||4-0||Real Sociedad|
|Feb. 2||Athletic Bilbao||1-1||Real Madrid|
The biggest news of the weekend was clearly Barcelona's loss. Not only did they lose a game they shouldn't have lost, but it came at home. Samuel Marsden of Sport gave an indication of how startling the result was:
Valencia become the first team since Hercules in Sept 2010, other than Madrid, to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou in La Liga. 66 games later.— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) February 1, 2014
Cristiano Ronaldo and Los Blancos will travel to play Athletic Bilbao in prime time on Sunday, Feb. 2 at San Mames, while Atletico Madrid host a tough Real Sociedad team that is currently sixth in the league table.
Sociedad are an overlooked but dangerous squad led by Antoine Griezmann, who ranks only behind Ronaldo and Diego Costa with 14 goals this season.
Atletico Madrid have racked up 54 points through 21 games and—like Barcelona prior to this week—have lost just once in league play all season coming into Week 22.
But if Real are able to extend their incredible unbeaten streak with a win over Bilbao, then a loss or draw by Atletico would see Los Blancos leapfrog into first place. Barcelona's slip-up could open the door for Real to move into second place.
Real Madrid's 20-match unbeaten streak will come under threat when they travel to fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.— Football Talk (@FootballTalk_) January 31, 2014
With eight goals and seven assists to his name in 14 La Liga appearances this season, Bale's potential absence will have a mighty impact on how this match plays out.
Matchday 22 will conclude on Monday, Feb. 3 with Villarreal hosting Osasuna. Villarreal began the week in fifth place in the table and will attempt to gain separation from Real Sociedad with a bounce-back victory to close out the week.
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