While the La Liga season is 38 matches long, there might not have been a bigger weekend than Matchday 29.
Real Madrid and Barcelona renewed their rivalries once again in El Clasico, and Barcelona were able to save their season with a 4-3 road win.
This allowed the club to make up three points to pull right behind Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the league table. Atletico reached 70 points this week with an easy win over Real Betis, moving into a tie for first place.
Here is a look at the updated table as well as a breakdown of Week 29.
|12||Celta de Vigo||29||9||6||14||-8||33|
via ESPN FC
|March 21||Celta Vigo||0-2||Malaga|
|March 22||Real Valladolid||1-1||Real Vallecano|
|March 22||Athletic Bilbao||1-0||Getafe|
|March 23||Real Betis||0-2||Atletico Madrid|
|March 23||Real Madrid||3-4||Barcelona|
|March 24||Almeria||4-3||Real Sociedad|
via ESPN FC
Malaga got things started with a 2-0 win on Friday thanks to a brace by Ignacio Camacho. Celta Vigo had possession for almost two-thirds of the match, but they could not get quality looks inside of the box.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Camacho took advantage of his opportunities to almost double his season output after scoring three goals in his first 25 league matches this year.
On Saturday, Athletic Bilbao earned an important win over Getafe thanks to a goal by Markel Susaeta. Every win at this point of the year gives the squad a better chance to hold onto fourth place at season's end.
Meanwhile Real Valladolid could only manage a draw as they still sit in the relegation zone.
In Sunday's early matches, Atletico Madrid got its necessary win over Real Betis. Diego Costa scored in a matchup that was almost unfair for the home team:
Betis 0-2 Atlético FT: Diego Costa has now scored 23 Liga goals this season, one more than the entire Betis squad (excl. own goals). #Atleti— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) March 23, 2014
Still, all eyes were on the battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Barca earned a 2-1 victory when these squads played earlier in the year at Camp Nou, but the home team was not able to get revenge this time around.
Two Karim Benzema goals helped Real Madrid earn a 2-2 draw at halftime, which became a 3-2 lead when Cristiano Ronaldo scored on a penalty.
However, that did not last long as a Sergio Ramos red card changed the match. Some Real Madrid fans might argue, but Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sport explained that it was the right call:
It wasn't Neymar offside and it was indeed penalty and red card for Sergio Ramos. Fantastic cal from ref and linesman— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) March 23, 2014
Lionel Messi equalised with the penalty and then completed a hat trick later in the match to secure a 4-3 victory for Barcelona. BBC Sport points out the importance of the win:
Pedro explained to Barca TV before the match that a loss is unacceptable (via Dermot Corrigan of ESPN):
It would make it tough to pull ourselves back into the title race. But we are coming into the game in a good moment of form and we know it’s all to play for there. We all want to put in a great performance and keep our Treble hopes alive.
The team is focused, united and clear about what we have to do. In the big games, the team have played really well and at a high level.
Fortunately, his side was able to get the necessary three points to create an exciting three-way race down the stretch.
Matchday 29 concluded on Monday with Almeria topping Real Sociedad 4-3 on the strength of Hicham Khaloua's go-ahead goal in injury time.
Interestingly, things pick up right away on Tuesday with the next set of matches, so each squad will have to make sure they leave something left in the tank. Otherwise, the great effort from this week will be wasted with poor efforts going forward.
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