Barcelona’s title hopes suffered a hammer blow on Saturday as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Celta Vigo, handing Real Madrid the chance to move two points clear at the top of LaLiga.
Luis Suarez twice put his team in front at Balaidos with his first goals since January but Iago Aspas bent in a late free-kick to earn Celta a draw, in what could prove a pivotal moment in the title race.
Barca face an even tougher test on Tuesday against in-form Atletico Madrid, who held off a late fightback from Alaves to win 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano. Atletico are third, now four points clear of Sevilla.
Before then, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid side will hope to take a big step towards becoming champions by winning away at bottom club Espanyol on Sunday.
Madrid own the superior head-to-head against Barcelona and have won four out of four since La Liga restarted earlier this month. With a kinder run-in than the Catalans, the trophy appears to be Madrid’s to lose.
“The feeling is a negative one,” said Suarez afterwards. “If we want to stay in the title race and have it in our hands we have to win all our games. But we now have to rely on Madrid to drop points.”
Suarez played his best game since undergoing knee surgery in January, his first goal coming from a surprise free-kick from Lionel Messi, who crossed when everyone expected him to shoot.
Yet Barcelona’s defensive frailties hurt them again and Celta should even have won it in injury-time, only for Nolito to miss a golden chance at the back post.
Celta climb to 16th, eight points clear of the bottom three. – AFP