La Liga title race blown wide open as Barcelona slump to consecutive defeats
The La Liga title race has been blown wide up thanks to Barcelona’s 1-0 loss away to Real Sociedad while both Atletico and Real Madrid picked up wins. FC Barcelona remain top but now hold a slender three point lead over second placed Atletico and a four point advantage over Real.
Real Sociedad 1-0 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona traveled to San Sebastian looking to end the ‘curse of the Anoeta.’ The Catalans have failed to win at Sociedad for nine years, their last win coming in May 2007. Luis Enrique opted to make five changes from the side who completed a comeback against Atletico Madrid midweek with Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic all rested. Luis Suárez was suspended for this tie and his replacement Munir el Haddadi will rue his missed chance in the opening minutes. Sociedad took the lead with under five minutes played when 18-year-old Mikel Oyarzabal rose to head home Xabi Prieto’s cross. Barcelona produced chances to level the game but an inspired Geronimo Rulli saved almost certain goals from Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Enrique’s plan of resting key players was disrupted as all three regular starters were introduced in the second half. Last night’s loss is the first time in 18 months that Barca have lost consecutive league games.Performances of late have raised concerns over the squads fitness heading into the business end of the season.
Espanyol 1-3 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid came from behind to defeat Espanyol 3-1 yesterday evening which moves them just three points behind Barcelona. The home side took the lead from a corner from set-piece specialist Marco Asensio and Pape Diop climbed above Fernando Torres to head home. Torres made up for this mistake six minutes later combining with Koke for the third game in a row to score.Koke was also the provider for Antoine Griezmann who put Atletico ahead on 58 minutes, the Frenchman smashing the ball in off both posts to grabbing his 20th league goal of the season.Koke went from provider to goalscorer and killed off Espanyol’s hopes of a revival in the 88th minute, heading in a cross from Torres. A crucial win for the Rojiblancos.
Real Madrid 4-0 Eibar
Real Madrid bounced back from their midweek loss to Wolfsburg with a 4-0 home win over Eibar.James Rodriguez opened the scoring from a free kick after just four minutes Lucas Vazquez and Jese added to the scoring with the help of passes from Cristiano Ronaldo, who grabbed Madrid’s third of the afternoon to move to 30 Primera Division goals for the season. The goal scoring was completed by halftime in what was an important victory for Real who remain one point behind Atletico and four points from the top.
Atletico Madrid host Barcelona midweek in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. Barca hold a slender 2-1 lead and the outcome of the match will have serious permutations for the La Liga title race. Real welcome Wolfsburg to the Bernebau and have work to do. The German’s recorded a famous 2-0 win at home last week and will prove difficult to breakdown on Tuesday night.