The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

5 things to know about the Spanish league as Atletico hopes for Real, Barca to slip up

  • Print

MADRID - Atletico Madrid can follow up its feat of reaching the Champions League final by winning its first Spanish league title in 18 years if closest rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid slip up this weekend.

Atletico beat Chelsea to reach its first European Cup final in 40 years on Wednesday and, for an encore, it can take another step toward its first league championship since 1996 with a victory at Levante on Sunday.

Madrid, meanwhile, is also riding high after powering past Bayern Munich in its Champions League semifinal to help set up the first ever city derby in a European Cup final.

Madrid plays against Valencia on Sunday, hours after Atletico's match, so it will be aware of what is necessary to remain in the race.

Atletico has 88 points with three rounds to play, Barcelona is second with 84 points ahead of its game against Getafe on Saturday. Madrid has 82 points but still has four games left to play.

Here are five things to know about this weekend's La Liga action:



Both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid must harness the momentum from its impressive Champions League victories as they find themselves fighting each other for the domestic title as well.

The teams will play for the European Cup in Lisbon on May 24, but La Liga is still very much up for grabs before that.

"We've got to focus on the game against Levante and nothing more," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We've got to recover and move forward game by game."

Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa is available after being sidelined nearly two months to a knee injury.



Barcelona faces a must-win match against Getafe on Saturday as it looks to avoid its first trophyless season since 2006-07. If Barcelona fails to maintain the pressure on Atletico it will have no chance of retaining its league title.

"We know that we're dependent on other results and that certainly complicates things," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said on Thursday. "But we have hope. We need to exhaust all of our possibilities."

Barcelona winger Isaac Cuenca was cleared to return from a knee injury.



Athletic Bilbao needs just three points from its final three games to clinch a place in next season's Champions League, and plays at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

Athletic is six points ahead of fifth-place Sevilla, including a better head-to-head advantage, as it closes in on returning to Europe's elite competition for the first time since the 1998-99 season.

"Nothing has been achieved yet (for the Champions League)," said coach Ernesto Valverde, whose club is assured of at least Europa League football. "The players have no fear, we know what it has taken to get this far and that we have to win every game."



Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso looks almost certain to play in all of the team's remaining domestic fixtures after his booking against Bayern Munich in the Champions League left him out of the final.

Alonso certainly showed his disappointment after picking up the booking, but that only means the Spain international will be motivated for matches against Valencia, Real Valladolid, Celta Vigo, and Espanyol.

"We're all very sad about Xabi's booking, because he is a player who would be very important in the final. It was very unfair," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.



Barcelona will pay tribute to former coach Tito Vilanova on Saturday when it plays Getafe at Camp Nou.

It will be the first chance the Catalan club gets to remember Vilanova at its home stadium since his passing from throat cancer last week at age 45.

Barcelona will sport a "Tito, Always Eternal" slogan across the front of its jerseys, while the 99,000-capacity stadium will display a message in honour of Vilanova in the stands. Spectators and players will also watch some of the top moments from Vilanova's time with the club during a pre-match video.

"Tito's presence will be with us for our final games," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said.

Vilanova guided Barcelona to the Spanish league title last season in his only season in charge after replacing Pep Guardiola.


Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter:

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.