Atletico Madrid, the last remaining title challengers to the Barcelona buzzsaw, fell by the wayside on Sunday, as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Co., proved a task too tall for Diego Simeone’s men. With the gap between the first- and second-place sides at just five points entering Sunday’s clash at the Camp Nou, an Atleti win — and Barca’s first defeat of the league season — would have set up a furious race for the title with 11 games still to play.
Alas, Messi scored the game’s only goal to send the Blaugrana eight points clear of Los Rojiblancos and all but officially crown the Catalans kings of Spain for the third time in four seasons (and seven out of the last 10).
The goal came 26 minutes into the first half, when Messi curled another pinpoint, postage-stamp free kick over the leaping wall and under the crossbar. Jan Oblak’s arguably one of the best five goalkeepers in the world, and he never, ever had a chance.
That makes 24 league goals for Messi this season, putting him four ahead of Suarez, and eight ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi also leads the league with a dozen assists, three Celta Vigo’s Pione Sisto. Hello, Ballon d’Or no. 6.
Real Madrid 3-1 Getafe (Saturday)
Another spot — and seven more points — down the league table, you’ll find the defending champions, Real Madrid. It’s been a season to forget for Zinedine Zidane’s side, and Los Blacos appear set to fight Valencia to the bitter end in the race for third, even following Saturday’s 3-1 dismantling of 10th-place Getafe.
Gareth Bale got things started in the 24th minute, followed by Ronaldo’s 15th goal of the league season just after halftime, and his 16th not long before full-time.
Sevilla 2-0 Athletic Bilbao Villarreal 0-2 Girona Deportivo La Coruña 1-1 Eibar Leganes 2-0 Malaga Real Sociedad 2-1 Alaves Levante 1-1 Espanyol