The title race in La Liga looks to be falling into Atletico Madrid’s hands, after their city rivals Real were held to a 1-1 draw at Real Valladolid on Wednesday night.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had led for much of the game after Sergio Ramos opened the scoring, but a late equaliser from Humberto Osorio has severely dented the title hopes of Los Merengues.
It was a disastrous night for the Copa del Rey winners, as star man Cristiano Ronaldo also limped off through injury in the first half.
PHOTO: Cristiano Ronaldo is substituted early on against Valladolid pic.twitter.com/sOtrWANjAA— AS English (@English_AS) May 7, 2014
This result leaves Real four points behind Atletico with two games to play, meaning that by the end of the next round of fixtures, their title challenge could well be over.
The relegation battle has also been shaken up, as the unexpected point for Valladolid lifts them out of the drop zone.
On Monday, Real Socieded hosted Granada and were held to a 1-1 draw after a last-minute equaliser from the visitors. The result meant little for Sociedad, who remain in sixth place, but could prove vital for Granada, who continue to battle relegation. The Andalusians are three points clear of the drop zone, but are far from safe yet.
Granada draw Real Sociedad to snatch vital point in relegation race. http://t.co/bTR4SfrxJt— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 6, 2014
|May 10||Villarreal||7 p.m. BST (2 p.m. ET)||Rayo Vallecano|
|May 10||Levante||9 p.m. BST (4 p.m. ET)||Valencia|
|May 11||Athletic Club||4 p.m. BST (11 a.m. ET)||Real Sociedad|
|May 11||Atletico Madrid||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Malaga|
|May 11||Elche||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Barcelona|
|May 11||Getafe||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Sevilla|
|May 11||Granada||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Almeria|
|May 11||Real Betis||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Real Valladolid|
|May 11||Espanyol||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Osasuna|
|May 11||Celta de Vigo||6 p.m. BST (1 p.m. ET)||Real Madrid|
Sid Lowe of The Guardian described the title situation like this: "One thing is for sure: La Liga is going to the final day and, brilliantly, there are still three teams in it. Oh, and on that final day, two of them will play each other."
However, Real's failure to secure the win they needed in Valladolid makes this point redundant. If Atletico can beat Malaga on Sunday, then Real can no longer win La Liga.
Sergio Ramos of Real admitted his team are now unlikely to prosper:
Ramos: “The title's practically lost, but as long as it’s still mathematically possible we have to keep fighting" http://t.co/um5vDcCE8L— AS English (@English_AS) May 7, 2014
The equation remains the same for Atleti, four points from their remaining two games, and the title is theirs. Anything less, and they are susceptible; the difference now is that Barcelona are their biggest threat.
If Barca win their remaining two games, of which the second is at home to Atletico, then they will be crowned La Liga champions.
With all three teams stumbling over the finish line, it is probably not wise to look to the final game of the season just yet. All three must win at the weekend and then reassess their campaigns for the last day of the season.
Billy bonkers in La Liga. Unless Elche and Malaga have got teeth it's going down to a winner take all (ish) last match show-down at Camp Nou— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) May 7, 2014
The battle at the bottom is even more complex than the one at the top. Real Betis may already be down, but the other two relegation spots are yet to be filled, and there are six teams fighting to avoid them.
Osasuna and Getafe currently fill those places, but just four points separates them and Elche, who are in 14th position in La Liga. Valladolid, Almeria and Granada are the other sides in grave danger of demotion.
The big match this weekend is between Granada and Almeria, the winner of which will go a long way to securing survival. Nothing can be decided in the penultimate weekend, but teams can do themselves a huge favour by picking up three points before the season’s final day.