Atlético's defeat at Anoeta has all but confirmed Barcelona as winners of LaLiga. They now need just one more victory. Having had to postpone this weekend's fixture with Villarreal until 9 May due to their involvement in the cup final against Sevilla (whose clash with Real Madrid has likewise been rearranged for then), their next league game is Sunday week's visit to Deportivo. If they win at Riazor, they'll already be champions when they host Real. But, as you know, they won't get a guard of honour. Sadly, something that began life as a dignified recognition of achievement has, thanks to a tendency to take a more mischievous view of things, now degenerated into being seen as a humiliation. So Barça didn't want to do it at the Bernabéu after the Club World Cup, and Real don't want to do it now.
Title joy would be tempered by a Real Champions League win...
Whether we like it or not, of course, the levels of joy that Barcelona's imminent title tiumph will spark in the Ciudad Condal (we'll find out if it's to be one half of a domestic double on Saturday), will to a large extent be subject to the outcome of Real Madrid's Champions League adventure. The tournament has acquired such dimensions of significance that Barça's elimination in Rome even led to talk of a failed season, despite the potential for them to win the league without losing a single game, and the fact that they're through to the cup final. Indeed, the gnashing of teeth the defeat provoked even had me half-expecting them to stage a collapse like that of Carlos Queiroz's Real. But they banished such thoughts by beating Valencia.
...but it should take nothing away from Barcelona's achievement
Barcelona's LaLiga win should not be underestimated, regardless of whether Real seal European success or not. Sure, it would douse the Camp Nou celebrations somewhat; but let it take nothing away from Barça's achievement in winning a league whose figures show that it is growing year on year. Followed the world over, it has now overtaken the Bundesliga in revenue and is closing in on the Premier League, which five years ago banked double what LaLiga did. Its global audience is particularly in evidence when it comes to the Clásico, which on this occasion - even if the title race has been run - still promises the intrigue of whether Real can puncture their arch rivals' dream of going through an entire league season undefeated. It would certainly be a feather in Los Blancos' cap.