The 2013-14 La Liga title race is heating up with less than two months left in the season as three Spanish powerhouses take aim at one of European football's most coveted crowns.
Through 29 matches, Atletico Madrid sits atop the league table, boasting the head-to-head tiebreak over rival Real Madrid. But defending champions Barcelona are still alive too, just one point off the pace heading into the home stretch.
Below we'll take a closer look at the updated La Liga table and break down the league landscape ahead of Matchday 30.
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Three-Club Race for the Title
With nine matches left to go for each club this season, the race for the La Liga title will come down to three teams: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and defending champions Barcelona.
Led by Gabi and Diego Costa, Atletico picked up a massive 2-0 win at Real Betis on Sunday to draw even with crosstown rival Real Madrid atop the table. Keep in mind that Diego Simeone's squad boast the head-to-head advantage.
Meanwhile, Los Blancos suffered a gut-wrenching 4-3 loss to Barcelona at the Bernabeu, which pulls Lionel Messi and Co. within one point of the two league leaders, per beIN Sports on Twitter:
The only remaining meeting featuring two of the three teams is scheduled for the season finale on May 18 when Atletico will travel to Camp Nou to face Barca. Therefore, Atletico control their own destiny and can secure the title by winning out.
But with each club set to face plenty more tough tests, it's anyone's guess as to which will come out on top two months from now.
Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Villarreal Locks for Europa League?
While Athletic Bilbao, who are 14 points back of third place and eight points ahead of fifth place, watch the top three clubs battle for the league title, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Villarreal are seemingly locked into spots five through seven, which would qualify them for Europa League next season.
The three clubs are separated by just two points heading into the final quarter of the season.
Real Sociedad suffered a disappointing 4-3 loss at Almeria on Monday but will have plenty more chances to leapfrog Sevilla in the future. The same goes for Villarreal, who fell 2-1 at Valencia on Sunday.
But either way, these three clubs will be chasing a shot at the Europa League this spring.
Teams at Risk of Relegation
With more than half of La Liga's 20 clubs more than 30 points back of the league lead, a plethora of teams are at risk of being relegated at season's end.
Real Betis is seemingly a lock to be bounced as they possess just 19 points through 29 matches. But that doesn't mean opponents will be sleeping on the bottom dwellers. Atletico's Gabi had high praise for Betis ahead of Sunday's 2-0 triumph, per SkySports.com:
"Betis are worthy of being considered a big team. They are a team who need to take their chances in the league..."
Real Valladolid and Getafe are two other clubs likely to finish at the bottom. But with nine matches still left to go, Almeria and Osasuna could easily fall into those spots. Rayo Vallecano and Elche are each just two points ahead of 18th place as well.
What's more, eighth-place Valencia is only 11 points clear of 18th-place Getafe.
But the lack of separation below the top-tier clubs speaks to the league's overall depth.
The Bundesliga is a much more complete league where even the relegation bound teams dish out beautiful football like the La Liga— Sandile (@uDosa_) March 21, 2014
With time running out on Betis and others, the final quarter of the season is sure to be wild and feature plenty of surprises. With so little separating each club, one positive result could alter the landscape and turn around a club's fortune.
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