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LaLiga: Atlético survive another fright to edge closer to title


Atlético Madrid continue to endure fright after fright but, game by game, are edging ever closer to winning LaLiga. On Wednesday night, they won what on paper was the hardest match they had left against a rejuvenated, ambitious Real Sociedad who are fighting for a European place. And La Real didn’t make it easy for them. Despite Atlético quickly going into a 2-0 lead, the Basques refused to give in and came close to utterly torpedoing their hosts’ title bid. Helped by Diego Simeone’s irredeemable habit of dropping his side deep when they’re winning, La Real really turned the screw in the second half, forcing Jan Oblak into three huge saves, hitting the post once and scoring once. Atlético were right on the edge.

Atlético now just two victories from winning LaLiga

It’s also true that Atlético could have got more goals. Before opening the scoring, they passed up a couple of clear-cut chances, and then did likewise afterwards, too. The attack of Marcos Llorente, Ángel Correa, Luis Suárez and Yannick Carrasco is a productive one, but is susceptible to fouling up when it comes to finishing chances off. Suárez continues to get himself into scoring positions, but isn’t finding the net - either through his own fault or because the final pass isn’t right. João Félix came on late on, but he’s starting to have the look of a player who isn’t really part of it. He comes across as careless, absent; he scarcely participates and doesn’t seem to mind. Atleti are rolling on without him and are now just two wins from the title.

Real Madrid slip-up at Granada will push Atleti closer to title

Or closer than that, if Real Madrid slip up against Granada. Zinedine Zidane has taken his decimated squad to Andalusia without Marcelo, who joins the long list of players already out. Anyone would think Madrid have desecrated Tutankhamun’s tomb and are suffering the wrath of supernatural forces because of it. Thankfully for Zidane, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema appear immune. And they’re Madrid’s most necessary players. Today, Los Blancos face a Granada side who have played 56 games already this season and, given their similarly crowded sick bay, have every reason to be pleased with their campaign, despite missing out on Europe. Madrid are still in the race as long as they win.