Barcelona left it late before joining Real Madrid and a faltering Atletico Madrid to set up a grandstand finish to La Liga’s season.
Atleti led the table by double digits earlier this season but Diego Simeone’s men have dropped points in five of their last eight matches including Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to Sevilla.
Real Madrid is unbeaten in nine following a 2-0 win over Eibar on Saturday, but a pair of draws in that run — including the Madrid derby — have allowed Barcelona to move within a point of first.
So it’s Atleti with 66 points, Barca with 65, and Real with 62… with El Clasico on Sunday!
Barca hasn’t lost in La Liga since Dec. 5, a 19-match run that includes just three draws and a 48-12 aggregate scoreline.
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So how’s that stretch looked for one Lionel Messi, who had allegedly quit on the team with his transfer request over the summer? He didn’t score Monday against 10-man Real Valladolid — that honor went to Ousmane Dembele — but he’s still pretty okay at soccer.
Messi has 19 goals and eight assists in the 17 matches he’s played in the 19-match run, missing a 1-1 draw with Eibar due to an ankle injury and serving a red card suspension in a 2-0 win over Elche.
So when Barca started 4W-2D-4L, Messi had four goals and two assists. Since then? Pretty okay, like we said.
And now… the drama.
Barcelona and Atleti are done with the Champions League following unceremonious ousters, while Real begins two legs with Liverpool this week.
Sandwiched between the match-up of clubs who celebrated the European Cup more than any other?
We’ll say it again: El Clasico. Sunday. Nice.
It’s Real’s last chance to make a six-point swing in the title fight and the first of two for Barcelona, who hosts Atleti on May 9.
Who’s gonna go get it? Here are the schedules the rest of the way, though Barcelona will have a match rescheduled due to the Copa del Rey Final.
Real Madrid v Barcelona — 3pm ET Saturday
Real Betis v Atletico Madrid — 3pm ET Sunday
Atletico Madrid v Huesca — 10:15am ET April 18
Barcelona v Getafe — postponed
Cadiz v Real Madrid — 12:30pm ET April 18
Real Madrid v Real Betis — 3pm ET April 24
Villarreal v Barcelona — 10:15am ET April 25
Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid — 3pm ET April 25
Matchday 33 – April 28
Atletico Madrid v Eibar
Barcelona v Granada
Getafe v Real Madrid
Matchday 34 – May 2
Elche v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Osasuna
Valencia v Barcelona
Matchday 35 – May 9
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Sevilla
Matchday 36 – May 12
Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad
Granada v Real Madrid
Levante v Barcelona
Matchday 37 – May 16
Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v Osasuna
Barcelona v Celta Vigo
Matchday 38 – May 23
Eibar v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Villarreal
Real Valladolid v Atletico Madrid
Atleti, Barcelona, Real Madrid within 3 points… with El Clasico on Sunday originally appeared on NBCSports.com