Tito Vilanova’s Nou Camp tribute, transfer rumours and replacement coach candidates submerged the news of Barcelona dropping points late vs Getafe, last weekend. Typical situation where a club virtually feels their season is over. Only three other clubs currently dominate the transfer headlines more – Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Chelsea - the season almost over for these three free spending giants.
By their lofty standards, Tata Martino’s team, have failed this season, so far. Their routine Champions League semi-final date couldn’t occur the seventh consecutive time, Real Madrid edged them in Copa Del Ray and Messi and co looked all set to be third in La Liga when, fate conspired.
The Spanish domestic title race continues to test the heartbeat of fans. Last weekend, aside Getafe’s equalizer, Cristiano Ronaldo’s cheeky back heel saved Real from defeat. Both injury time goals, combined, kept the Madrid giants in title race.
However yesterday night, relegation fighting Real Valladolid drew 1-1 with the Galacticos to put the first nail. Juan Martinez’s men should have won the game towards the end. Either ways, suddenly, out of nowhere, Barcelona and their beleaguered contingent see themselves in prime position for salvaging their season.
They don’t occupy the prime slot yet, Atletico Madrid are still two points clear on top of La Liga but play their last game at Nou Camp – a game which many had predicted early, to be the season decider. The Rojiblancos looked all set for a historic double - domestically and at Europe – till mid table Levante put a spanner in their works.
This weekend all the three giants, play mid table, semi interested teams. One can safely expect Barcelona and Atletico to beat Elche and Malaga respectively, and then square off for the sixth time this season.
Atletico will have a jaded (Diego Simeone does minimal rotation) but super charged up squad and a monumental Champions league final to look upto. Barcelona will have only 90 minutes at their citadel to give their all and turn a bad season to a great one. A chance to restore pride, market valuations and earn their fat paychecks.
The Catalans haven't beaten Cholo Simeone's men even once in five meetings, this season! Far from winning, the free scoring team, having netted 99 La Liga goals, could breach Atletico’s defence only twice in those five meetings.
Hence it's advantage Atletico Madrid in the best football league of the world. But can Barcelona make it sixth time lucky? Any team which wins La Liga over two Champions league finalists, will have the bragging rights and much more. Tata Martino’s ‘tata’ may just be prevented – justifiably.
All to play for!