So much for Real Madrid potentially struggling with Granada (Los Blancos won that 4-1), and so much for Barcelona cruising against Levante.
In the preview of Matchday 36, I was right about one thing: someone was going to drop points. But it was Barcelona, not Real Madrid, who all but eliminated themselves from contention. The Catalans squandered a 2-0 lead, as well as a 3-2 lead, and ended up dropping 2 huge points in a 3-3 draw against Levante. As a result, Barcelona has gone from +325 to win La Liga going into the Levante match to +5,000 (!!). Spanish newspaper As put it best: “One less” (in the title race):
📰 Nuestra portada de hoy, miércoles 12 de mayo
🗞 UNO MENOS pic.twitter.com/wV3X3utuyC
— Diario AS (@diarioas) May 11, 2021
Now all Atletico Madrid has to do is take care of two games (Osasuna and Valladolid) that it will enter as the massive favorite. Before discussing the title-clinching scenarios, a quick look at the Matchday 37 slate.
Note: All games this weekend, and next weekend as well, will kick off at the same time on Sunday. This week, all 10 matches begin at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
- Atlético Madrid (-420) vs. Osasuna (+1,150)
- Barcelona (-420) vs. Celta Vigo (+950)
- Athletic Club (+420) vs. Real Madrid (-175)
Can Real Madrid keep the pressure on Atleti?
With a two-point lead over their crosstown rivals — Atleti has 80 points to Real Madrid’s 78 — Atleti is -335 to win the title. Real Madrid, at +275, doesn’t exactly need a miracle, but does have to hope for one or two more slip-ups by Atleti. Even in an upset-filled year like this one, when nothing should surprise us, Atlético dropping points against either 11th-place Osasuna or 18th-place Valladolid seems hard to imagine, doesn’t it?
But Diego Simeone’s team only has to win out if Real Madrid can capture all six points against two solid opponents. First, RM face a tough Athletic Club team that has beaten both Barcelona (in the Supercopa final) and Atleti (in La Liga on April 25). Los Blancos close against Europa League finalist Villarreal. The former looks like the tougher test, as Villarreal will probably not have its best lineup on the pitch next weekend, just three days before the big UEL final against ManU.
Marcelino is as capable of pushing to his team to a big upset win as any manager in Spain, but his club’s recent form is, uh, not great. Athletic Club has secured 8 of 15 possible points over its last five, but that includes draws vs. Valladolid and Osasuna, as well as a loss to Huesca on Wednesday.
The scary thing for Real Madrid is during that five-game stretch, Marcelino and Co. have also pulled off wins over Atleti and Sevilla. Does anything encapsulate this season in La Liga better than Athletic Club’s last five games? Levante would rightfully say, “look at us,” but I digress.
Can Zidane’s B-teamers impress again?
Against Granada earlier this week, 19-year-old Miguel Gutierrez notched an assist, while Marvin Park (20) was solid at right back. RM also got a big game from Rodrygo, who scored his first goal of the season in La Liga. Zidane will obviously need more of those contributions this weekend, as his first-choice back line remains unavailable. Unfortunately for RM, Toni Kroos will also be out.
Expect another W for Real Madrid — I think — but this one will be much more of a struggle. Under 2.5 total goals (+102) seems like the best bet here, as I wouldn’t count on the RM attack firing on all cylinders in back-to-back games, especially with Kroos sidelined.
Atleti will take care of Osasuna, right?
These guys are healthy enough — Luis Suarez, Yannick Carrasco, Kieran Trippier and Marcos Llorente all started against Real Sociedad, and Joao Felix is a hell of an option off the bench — that I trust them, but … Do i really need to list out all the head-scratching results this year by this team, and everyone else in this league? Didn’t think so. One thing I do trust is Jan Oblak against a team with 36 goals in 36 games this year, so give Under 2.5 Total Goals (-106) a look.