Spanish football is locked in one of the most fiercely contested title races in years, with four teams battling for the honour of winning La Liga.
Rarely have so many teams had a genuine shot at claiming the big prize heading into the final games of the season. As the tension mounts, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Sevilla are the quartet jostling for position.
If it comes down to Real Madrid focusing on just one competition, current betting on the UEFA Champions League final places them at 5/1 odds to lift the famous trophy. The side managed by Zinedine Zidane could gamble on resting players in La Liga games, if his team were to make the European final.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 29, 2021
Of course, winning both would be the ideal scenario for Real Madrid, however, they have been known to sacrifice league form in the past. It is widely acknowledged that for them, no competition carries more prestige than the Champions League, having won the elite European competition 13 times.
City rivals Atletico Madrid were in a commanding position earlier in the 2020-21 season, sitting at the top of La Liga and with a healthy points advantage. Nevertheless, they have struggled to maintain the same kind of consistency, dropping valuable points during the second half of the campaign.
Recent results have been disappointing for manager Diego Simeone, with Atletico Madrid losing important games against Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao, which has opened the door for title rivals to gain ground. Now there is absolutely no margin for error, they simply cannot afford to drop any more points.
— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) April 4, 2021
After beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 at home recently, Sevilla are now unlikely but genuine candidates to win La Liga. Former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has done a marvellous job over the last two seasons, and while they would probably be happy just to secure Champions League football for another season, the Andalusians can still win the Spanish title.
Interestingly, thanks to a 2-1 home win by Sevilla at home to fellow Andalusian outfit Granada, they are firmly in the race and still within touching distance of the leading teams. With five games remaining, they would likely need to win every encounter, including a mouth-watering clash against Real Madrid.
Just to make things all the more interesting, after their defeat away at Sevilla, humble Granada stunned Barcelona at the Camp Nou, as the home side missed a priceless opportunity to go top. After taking the lead with a drilled finish by Lionel Messi, coach Ronald Koeman watched in disbelief, as his team squandered numerous chances and were punished by the visitors.
Pegged back in their own half during most of the game, Granada took full advantage of rare opportunities to counter-attack, as Darwin Machis and Jorge Molina scored to secure a memorable 2-1 victory. Remarkably, this was the first time Granada have ever taken points at the Camp Nou, with all of their 24 previous visits ending in defeat.
Having lost against Sevilla and beaten Barcelona, the next chance for Granada to influence the race for La Liga will come against Real Madrid, who they will face at home on 13th May. Another giant-killing victory for Granada would all but end Real Madrid hopes of winning the title.
Along with being potential kingmakers, Granada led by Diego Martinez are still in with a chance of qualifying for Europe again themselves, making a late dash to finish inside the top seven. That makes their influence on the final title race in La Liga all the more interesting.