La Liga title slipping away from Barcelona?

Camp Nou, FC Barcelona
Can Barcelona really clinch a fourth straight La Liga title?

FC Barcelona’s draw to Villarreal on Saturday has left the reigning Champions seven points adrift of Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.

The Catalan club may be favourites for the Spanish Cup after last week’s aggregate win over Real Madrid, and will resume their bid to become the first club to successfully retain the Champions League later this month.

But in La Liga, it is difficult to see how they will be able to overturn the deficit that exists between themselves and their rivals from the capital, though it hasn’t stopped the official FC Barcelona website from pointing out how it may be possible.

In a desperate attempt to dispel the doom and gloom following the weekend’s results, an article entitled “Reasons to believe” has appeared on the site, citing five reasons why a fourth consecutive league title is still possible which are as follows:

  • The team is able to overcome all kinds of setback
  • Home form
  • Improvement on the road
  • Recovery of resources
  • History speaks for itself

Unfortunately it is easy to counter most of the above with a much stronger reason describing why it is Madrid fans who should be the ones believing that a title is not far away.

Barcelona’s home form is indeed impressive, but Real Madrid have been untouchable at the Bernabeu against every team they’ve faced besides Barca and there’s no indication that they’ll lose points in their remaining nine home fixtures.

On the road Real Madrid have dropped points in just two games, winning eight and that highlights why there is such a gap at the top. Barcelona have won only half as many, and drawn five. The article notes that it is still possible for Barcelona to match the record of 13 away wins in the league, but only if Barca win every one of their remaining nine away fixtures, something which seems highly unlikely based on results so far.

Madrid’s form is nothing new. They achieved 96 points in 2009/10 – a club record – and 92 points last year. If they were to match their tally of two years ago, Barcelona would need to win 17 of their 18 remaining games in order to come out on top.

The fourth reason to believe relates to the fact that several of Barcelona’s key players have been missing through injury. That’s unfortunate but is a situation unlikely to fully change until late-April or May, given that David Villa is recovering from a broken leg.

Villa, the team’s second highest goalscorer this season, may return in time to play a part to the conclusion to the Champions League, but there’s plenty of work for Barca to do in the league if they wish to stand a chance of retaining La Liga – work which they must do before Villa returns.

Real Madrid have had fewer problems with injuries to key players, but have a squad which would cope much better should they suffer any significant losses following an investment in players to the tune of more than €400m since the summer of 2009.

Even though the situation may look grim for Barcelona, the title race isn’t over yet. But despite the optimistic outlook which is coming from the club, more realistic fans might already be accepting that this year’s trophy looks incredibly likely to head back to Madrid.

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