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SOCCER

Is this year’s LaLiga over if Real Madrid loses against Barcelona today, March 19?

Before kick-off, Carlo Ancelotti’s side sit second in the table, nine points behind Barça. Would defeat today effectively end the title race?

Update:
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid Cf (L) and Robert Lewandowski of FC Barcelona (R) during a match between Real Madrid v FC Barcelona as part of LaLiga in Madrid, Spain, on October 16, 2022. (Photo by Alvaro Medranda/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Alvaro MedrandaDiarioAS

One of the questions put to Carlo Ancelotti in Saturday’s press conference concerned the knock-on effects on this evening’s Clásico on the title race. The coach was asked whether he thought defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou would effectively end Real Madrid’s chances of catching the leaders. “I don’t know, we are not thinking about that. We are thinking about winning the match. Whatever happens after that, whether we win or not, we can think about then. But as of the moment, we are only thinking about winning the game,” was Ancelotti’s reply.

The coach would later concede: “According to the stats, we are at a disadvantage in the Copa and LaLiga but that’s not the case in the Champions League. Anything can happen. Tomorrow, we could reduce the distance between us and Barcelona in LaLiga and that’s what we want to do”.

Are Barcelona too far ahead?

So just how realistic are Madrid’s chances of catching Barça? Prior to kick-off, Barcelona top the table on 65 points and Madrid are just behind in second place on 56 points - nine points separate the two teams who have both played 25 games. Including tonight’s Clásico, there are 13 games left to play - 39 points to play for.

For Xavi’s Barça to throw LaLiga away at this stage, they would need to lose at least three of the remaining 13 games and Madrid would need to win all of theirs, including El Clásico. Unless they suffer a collapse, the probability of that happening is slim - Barça have lost just two games in 25, and dropped just 10 points...

We’re also talking about the team with the best defensive figures in the whole of Europe. Barcelona have conceded just eight goals, with goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen keeping a clean sheet in 19 of the 25 games played so far. Compared to the teams who top the table in the rest of Europe’ major league shows how astonishing those figures are:

  • Barcelona (LaLiga - 8 goals conceded); Real Madrid - 19 goals conceded)
  • Arsenal (Premier League - 25 goals conceded)*
  • Napoli (Serie A - 16 goals conceded, after 26 games)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga - 31 goals conceded)*
  • PSG (Ligue 1 - 26 goals conceded, after 27 games)
  • Feyenoord (Eredivisie - 23 goals conceded)*

*All after 25 games unless stated

In Madrid’s favour however, is that they beat Barcelona in the reverse fixture at the Bernabéu back in October. If they can win El Clasico, that would give them the edge in the head-to-head figures should the two teams be tied on points on the final day.

But clawing back a nine-point deficit at this stage of the season is complicated in LaLiga. Juande Ramos’ Madrid were trailing by 12 points in Week 15 of the 2008/9 campaign and came close to catching up with Barça, heroically nabbing 52 out of a possible 54 points. There’s only been one precedent - Louis van Gaal’s Barça successfully chipped away at the nine-point lead Mallorca had established by Week 14 of the 1998/9 campaign to clinch the title with three games to go.

The most memorable comebacks in LaLiga for Real Madrid were in 2002/3 when they wiped out Real Sociedad’s seven-point advantage and in 2006/7 when Fabio Capello’s side managed to overcome a five-point deficit to finish on the same number of points as Barça but win the league on goal difference.

Real Madrid’s remaining games

  • Barcelona (A)
  • Valladolid (H)
  • Villarreal (H)
  • Cádiz (A)
  • Celta (H)
  • Girona (A)
  • Almeria (H)
  • Real Sociedad (A)
  • Getafe (H)
  • Valencia (A)
  • Rayo Vallecano (H)
  • Sevilla (A)
  • Athletic Club (H)

Barcelona’s remaining games

  • Real Madrid (H)
  • Elche (A)
  • Girona (H)
  • Getafe (A)
  • Atlético (H)
  • Rayo Vallecano (A)
  • Betis (H)
  • Osasuna (H)
  • Espanyol (A)
  • Real Sociedad (H)
  • Valladolid (A)
  • Mallorca (H)
  • Celta (A)