Can Real Madrid still win La Liga?
It was not long ago that Real Madrid’s title chances had all but been discounted in both the Catalan and Madrid press.
However, with Barcelona’s defeat in Almeria on the back of a humbling loss to Manchester United, there is a ray of hope and Barcelona are not yet home and dry.
Almeria performance raised alarm bells
It may only have been 1-0 to Almeria in a win which shocked Spain and humiliated Barcelona, but the manner of the display is what most gave Real Madrid hope.
Barcelona put in their worst showing of the season with some sources recording their first shot on goal on 81 minutes. The truth is that they did have a decent blocked shot in the first period, but the first time they worked the keeper was in the final ten minutes.
Keeping focus until El Classico
This article is written at a time when Barcelona has a seven point lead over Real Madrid, with the Spanish giants on the same number of matches.
It is important to note that there is still one El classico left of the campaign, basically meaning a six point swing is up for grabs.
The meeting between Madrid and Barcelona takes place in around two weeks’ time and clearly, this could be decisive if Barcelona win it.
That said, nobody truly knows how the table stands by then.
It is arguably the most cliché of football sayings but ‘one game at a time’ is also a crucial one. It is vital for both clubs too ahead of that 19th of March meeting in the Camp Nou.
It would not be the first time that one of them rests key players the round before El Classico and slips up, therefore ruining the chance of making it a true six pointer!
So, with that said, IF they meet with the gap the same as now AND Ancelotti can mastermind a win in Barcelona, then it could take the gap down to just 4 points with plenty of games left!
Barcelona’s injuries could be telling
Barcelona has shown they are vulnerable and the great news for Real Madrid, is that Xavi’s squad is heavily weakened on Sunday, and perhaps a game or two ahead as well.
Barcelona has key injury absences in the short term with Pedri, Dembele and Lewandowski all missing for potentially, a crucial number of matches.
Indeed, the 5th of March puts them up against a newly managed Valencia without the above three plus Gavi, so that 7-point gap may well even be reduced before El Classico.
Biggest hurdles ahead for Real Madrid
Let’s look at what Real Madrid has left in front of them before the home stretch.
Firstly, they face Real Betis away, a team which despise them and would love to put a dent in the title bid.
After the final El Classico of the season and not including the Betis match, Real’s toughest games in this order is Real Sociedad, Sevilla, and Valencia which are all away.
At home it is difficult to see them lose any points, but Villarreal at home is the slightly tricky one.
UEFA distraction for Los Blancos
The other concern is that Barcelona is out of all UEFA competition and except for the second leg of the cup plus the final should they get there, the Catalan focus is all about winning back the title.
Real Madrid by contrast is almost certainly going to be in the draw for the last 8 of the UCL and so for as much as they’ll deny it, they will prioritise potentially four more UCL games (those being two-legged QF’s and SF’s) over La Liga games in terms of rotations.
How Many points can Real Madrid drop and maintain realistic chances of winning the title?
In the last three La Liga seasons, twice the title was lifted with 86 points, and once with 87 points.
Real Madrid currently sits on 52 points with a maximum of 45 points left to play for over the remaining 15 matches.
In the near impossible scenario, they win out their games. They’ll finish on 97 points and that would win them the title, barring a miracle.
But realistically, they can probably drop 6/7 points and win it with 90 points, presuming of course they win El Classico.
In summary, the title is very much still there to fight for and at the very least, I would be shocked if the gap doesn’t narrow and perhaps go down to the final games.