Barcelona slip ups let Real and Atletico back in title race

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After a 2-2 draw with Villarreal put them nine points clear at the top of La Liga last month, it looked like Barcelona were cruising to another treble.

However, a 2-1 loss at home to Real Madrid in El Clasico started a run of form that saw Barca lose three of their next four, with their only win coming against ten-man Atletico Madrid who turned it around in the next leg to dump their compatriots out of Europe.

Now Luis Enrique’s men are only ahead of Atleti in La Liga on head-to-head advantage, while Los Merengues are just a point behind in third.

Losing to the two Madrid outfits is of course a disappointment, but is explainable given the quality of the pair, but defeats at the hands of Real Sociedad and Valencia show the Catalans are truly in a rut.

This run is truly an alien prospect for last year’s La Liga winners and it is the first time since 2003 they have lost three league games in a row, but they still remain the 1/2 to finish top at the end of the campaign.

The main problem for the Blaugrana seems to be their newfound inability to get shots away, with the European champions only managing three efforts on target against Real.

Furthermore, the most they have made a keeper work in one match in this run was the seven strikes against Valencia.

Conversely, in the seven league matches before the draw with Villarreal, that total was the lowest number of shots on target they managed in one match and the famed Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar trio aren’t troubling the opposition as much as they used to.

Atleti, who are 3/1 to win La Liga, are on a three-game winning streak across all competitions, but face three of the league’s top eight in their last five matches.

On the other hand, Real, who have won nine of their last ten, face three teams in the bottom half in their remaining fixtures and now would be the perfect time to back them to lift the La Liga trophy at 4/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dan Ross

After a brief stint as a commentator, Dan took his passion for football into writing and went on to gain an NCTJ in sports journalism. A lifelong Walsall fan, he's followed the Saddlers through the highs, getting to Wembley for the first time ever last season, and the lows, namely relegation to League Two in 2006.