Home Football Barcelona eye derby win to secure title

Barcelona eye derby win to secure title

by Wale Gbadebo
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Runaway leaders Barcelona will have the chance to clinch their 27th LaLiga crown with four games to spare when they face city rivals Espanyol on Sunday evening.

Victory at RCDE Stadium would give Barca an unassailable lead over Atletico or Real Madrid with four games left. The leaders moved to 82 points after beating Osasuna 1-0 last week and are 13 points ahead of second-placed Atletico and 14 clear of bitter rivals Real who dropped to third after losing 2-0 at Real Sociedad.

Barca could even clinch the title before stepping on the pitch if both Atletico and Real fail to win their games.

Real’s slim chances would end on Saturday if last year’s champions do not beat Getafe. They are expected to rest several key players as they focus on their Champions League semifinal second leg at Manchester City on Wednesday after the 1-1 draw at Santiago Bernabeu.

Atletico on Sunday play bottom side Elche, who have been relegated to the second division. Diego Simeone’s side are in a great run of form, having lost only two LaLiga matches since the World Cup break and winning 14 of their last 19 league games.

Barcelona were last LaLiga champions in 2018-19 and Real Madrid and Atletico have claimed the crown in the last three seasons.

After a glorious run from 2005-19 when they won four Champions League and 10 LaLiga titles, Barca have struggled on and off the pitch and their financial problems were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

They were unable to re-sign club great Lionel Messi who left as a free agent for Paris St Germain in 2021 but the arrival of former Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez as manager in November 2021 has revived their fortunes.

He has built a team with a rock-solid defence led by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, rising stars Pedri and Gavi in midfield and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski in attack.

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