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Atleti’s title chances boosted ahead of Levante game

AS AS 04/05/2014 Alfredo Relaño

Atlético arrived in Valencia last night feeling more favourites to lift the league title than ever. Barcelona, whom they visit on the final day, have fallen by the wayside. Their meeting with Getafe yesterday was pitiful – with Martino making last minute substitutions to run the clock down (Tello entering just four minutes after Song on 90 minutes). They were punished for that when Getafe equalised in stoppage time. Our colleague, Santi Giménez quipped to me, “Barça are already on their holidays” and that was the crux of his match report. It begs the question: Can Atlético start believing that they will take maximum points from their visit to Camp Nou? If that’s the case, they will only need to win this evening’s game and next week’s home meeting with Málaga.

But let’s not forget that mathematically, Barcelona could still arrive on the final day with their title aspirations intact – and in the highly improbable scenario in which all three end the campaign tied on 91 points, they would be crowned champions. For that to happen, they would need to beat Elche and then Atlético who, in turn would have to lose today against Levante or next week against Málaga while Barça would also need Madrid to lose one of their four remaining matches. Even if Madrid win their next three games, Barça would still be in with a chance should they find themselves capable of summoning the vitality to beat Alteti  - whilst hoping Madrid crash at home to Espanyol. There are other possibilities but all of them depend on both of the madrileños failing which seems unlikely.

So nothing is clear cut as we enter these final few weeks, especially if Barça can muster once last wheeze which, from the look of it, I can’t see happening. Yesterday, I put my calculations to a culé friend and he thought I was taking the Mickey out of him which certainly wasn’t my intention. The one team who is holding all the cards is Atlético who, as we all know, take it one game at a time and play later today in the Ciutat de València. Only a win will do for Simeone’s side – the Argentine is aware that Real Madrid are lurking, with Cristiano Ronaldo in a rich vein of form and on the back of the stability which will arise from Ancelotti’s decision to equally divvy out goalkeeping duties to Casillas and Diego López in the four remaining games . It’s Ancelotti ‘s way of avoiding issues and debates before they arise.

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