Atletico seek reaction as La Liga contenders go head-to-head - GulfToday

Atletico seek reaction as La Liga contenders go head-to-head

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid players attend a training session ahead of their Spanish League match against Villarreal. Courtesy: Twitter

Atletico Madrid have left the door ajar in La Liga’s title race but who steps forward first will depend on a battle of the contenders this weekend, when all of the top six face each other.

First against sixth pitches Atletico against Villarreal on Sunday night before second-placed Real Madrid host Real Sociedad in fifth. Before both of those, Barcelona travel to Sevilla on Saturday in a contest of third against fourth.

Sevilla’s seven-point cushion ahead of fifth place appears to have cast Real Sociedad and Villarreal adrift in the scrap for Champions League qualification but Julen Lopetegui’s side remain very much in the mix at the top.

Victory over Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan will see them move one point ahead of their opponents and only four behind Atletico, whose sudden dip has given hope to those below.

Sevilla are also the form team, on a run of six consecutive league victories, the last five of those without conceding a goal.

Youssef En-Nesyri has 13 league goals for the season but even as his hot streak has tailed off in recent weeks and Luis Ocampos, one of his main suppliers, has been out injured, Sevilla have been undeterred. Barcelona, meanwhile, were laboured in the first half against Elche on Wednesday, even if two goals from Lionel Messi sparked them into life in the second.

After drawing at home to Cadiz last weekend, the effects of their hammering by Paris Saint-Germain seem to have lingered ahead of what is now a crucial few days for the club.

Four days after facing Sevilla away, they play them again at home in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, looking to flip a 2-0 deficit and keep alive their hopes of winning a trophy this term.

Yet while the cup may be their “shortest route” according to Ronald Koeman, it may not be their only one, with only five points now the gap behind Atletico and the top of the table.

“The problem for us is the games we lost at the start of the season and we cannot lose any more,” said Koeman on Wednesday. “We have to win all the games now if we want to do something in the league.”

Agence France-Presse

Spanish League fixtures (all times GMT)
Saturday: Eibar vs Huesca (1300), Sevilla vs Barcelona (1515), Alaves vs Osasuna (1730), Getafe vs Valencia (2000)
Sunday: Celta Vigo vs Real Valladolid (1300), Cadiz vs Real Betis (1515), Granada vs Elche (1730), Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid (2000)
Monday: Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad (2000)

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