Barcelona, Madrid Take Title Fight to the Wire

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Like in 2013/14 season when the La Liga was decided on the last day, this year’s season has also gone to the wire as the two Spanish giants- Barcelona and Real Madrid, quest for the title would be decided today

Barcelona closed in on the La Liga title by thrashing local rivals Espanyol 5-0 last Sunday as Atletico Madrid dropped out of the race after losing 2-1 at Levante and Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-2.

Barcelona routed city rival Espanyol 5-0 on Sunday to increase their lead in the Spanish league going into next weekend’s final round of matches, when another victory will secure the Catalan club their second consecutive title.

In the final round, Barcelona will play at Granada, who were fighting against relegation but on Sunday mathematically secured their place in the top flight with a 4-1 win at Sevilla, while Real Madrid will play at Deportivo La Coruna, who are in the middle of the table and also won’t have anything to play for in the last round.

Barcelona have the advantage on the head-to-head tiebreaker against Real Madrid, so Madrid will need to win their game in La Coruna and hope Barcelona at least draw in Granada. Barcelona will be trying to win their sixth league title in eight seasons, while Madrid will be looking to lift the trophy for the first time since 2012, and second time in eight seasons.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were coming off difficult games in the semifinals of the Champions League, when both advanced to the May 28 final in Milan. Barcelona will play in the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla on May 22. The Catalan club relinquished a nine-point lead after going winless in four straight games, but Luis Enrique’s team picked up the pace just in time, winning four consecutive games by outscoring opponents 21-0 to stay ahead going into the decisive round.

Meanwhile, Granada’s Ivan Kelava has refuted claims that the club’s players have considered accepting incentives from Real Madrid to defeat Barcelona. Madrid must return from their trip to Deportivo La Coruna with maximum points and hope that Granada, who ensured top-flight survival last weekend, take points off the leaders.

The practice of offering bonuses, known as maletines (briefcases), is prohibited in Spanish football, which nonetheless has a history of incentivising at the end of the season.

Kelava was accused of telling Goal that Real Madrid  would be able to offer a ‘bonus’ to his side despite them having nothing to play for and that the practice was ‘normal’ in Spain.The 28-year-old Croatian international goalkeeper, however, adamantly denied such claims on Twitter a few hours after the quotes began to circulate.