by Renee Israel
With just five games left in the 2010/11 La Liga season, F.C. Barcelona looks set to snatch the coveted title of Spain's premier football division for a third consecutive year, provided they can continue their winning form and keep second place club Real Madrid at bay.
By defeating C. At. Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday, Barcelona increased its point total to 88, which is eight points clear of Real Madrid and 25 points clear of third place Valencia C.F. It is not lost on La Liga fans that in recent years, La Liga has turned into something of a two-horse race between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Since the 2003/4 La Liga season, Barcelona has won the coveted title four times - fifth if they win this season - while Real Madrid has won two. And it is this fierce rivalry that has fans of both teams on the edge of their seats. The big question is whether Real can catch the leaders?
Judging by how well Barcelona have been playing of late, that seems very unlikely. For Real Madrid to make up eight points, they will have to win all of their upcoming games, while Barcelona will have to lose most of theirs, if not draw. Again, this seems very unlikely, considering Barca have only chalked up a single loss and four draws from 33 matches this season, compared with Real Madrid's three losses and five draws.
However, to determine whether Real have any chance of catching Barcelona, it's important to look at its rivals in their last few games and compare them with those of Barcelona. Real are due to play Zaragoza next, followed by Sevilla, Getafe, Villarreal and finally Almería. They shouldn't have any problems defeating Zaragoza, Getafe and Almería, but they may find Sevilla and especially fourth-ranked Villarreal a bit more of a challenge.
In terms of their upcoming rivals, Barcelona will face R. Sociedad next, followed by Espanyol, Levante, Deportivo and finally Málaga. Unfortunately for Real Madrid, most of these teams are in the lower half of the La Liga standings, which means they will likely be easy pickings for Barcelona. Which is why Barcelona fans are no doubt already preparing to celebrate the club's third straight La Liga title.
Here are the complete La Liga results from the weekend:
||Real Madrid C.F.
|Real S. de Gijón
||C. At. Osasuna
|At. de Madrid
|Real Racing Club
|Real Zaragoza CD