How Real Madrid can stop Barcelona winning the title… and why it won’t happen!

The Merengue are still mathematically in the running to retain their crown – but they would need a miracle to overcome their rivals

After 33 hard-fought rounds, the end of La Liga is imminent. Ernesto Valverde’s men have led the competition from start to finish and, if results go the Catalans’ way this weekend, they could get their hands on the trophy for the seventh time in the last 10 seasons as early as this Sunday.

Only the two Madrid clubs, Atletico and Real, mathematically remain in the running. Diego Simeone’s men lie 11 points off the summit while the defending champions sit a further four points back having played one game fewer than their city rivals.

In theory at least, however, they could still retain their Liga title – although it would require a minor miracle.

What do Barcelona need to do in order to wrap up their domestic double in April? And how can Simeone and Zinedine Zidane sour their celebrations? Goal takes a look at the Liga run-in and all you need to know about the crowning of the next Spanish champions…


How can Barcelona win the title this weekend?


While their Champions League adventure ended in spectacular failure, back in Spain Barca have been near unstoppable. Valverde has masterminded a run of 39 unbeaten games in the Primera Division, a new record which includes not a single defeat to date in 2017-18.

That run sees the leaders sitting pretty on 83 points after 33 games. Their 11-point lead and game in hand over nearest rivals Atletico, moreover, means that a win away to Deportivo on Sunday will guarantee the title.

Three points would leave Valverde’s men with an unassailable lead over both Atletico and Real, regardless of the result managed by the two challengers. A draw, too, would be sufficient to lift the title, as Barcelona boast a superior record to Atletico in the pair’s head-to-head and thus would be crowned champions in the event of a tie on points at the end of the season.


How can Atletico win the title?


Diego Simeone Atletico Madrid Sevilla Copa del Rey

The Colchoneros’ prospects of regaining the trophy they last lifted under Simeone in 2014 are bleak. Their first priority will be taking three points away to Alaves early on Sunday, which would break a run of two winless games that has seen their title chances all but vanish.

A win in Vitoria would pile on the pressure for Barcelona, who kick off shortly after that game comes to a close. Atletico would also need Barca to lose not just that game, but their four following fixtures in order to pip them to the title, while Simeone and his charges need to win all of their remaining encounters to have a chance.


How can Real win the title?


The Champions League semi-finalists currently trail Barca by 15 points, with exactly 15 still in play for each of the Clasico rivals. A successful defence of the Liga title is therefore highly improbable but not yet impossible.

Madrid will in fact play their weekend fixture a day earlier than the two fellow title candidates, taking on Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu. They must win that game, and their four following league fixtures and hope that Barca lose all their remaining matches in order to draw level with their great rivals.

One of those games is the Clasico, which will be played on Sunday, May 6 at Camp Nou. In order to complete the miracle Madrid will need a huge win in their rivals’ backyard. Having lost 3-0 in the corresponding fixture they must either match or better that scoreline; if not, Barca’s better head-to-head record will hand them the title even without picking up a single further point.

If Madrid match that scoreline, meanwhile, goal difference will decide La Liga’s fate. Barca currently boast a difference of 64, compared to their rivals’ 44, a gap that would have to be eliminated in order to take the title back to the Bernabeu. Finally, the Blancos would also have to hope that Atletico drop at least two points during the run-in.


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