The La Liga title has alternated between Real Madrid and Barcelona for six seasons now but, as the 2020/21 draws to its conclusion, there is hope in the hearts of Atletico Madrid fans that the La Liga trophy will instead be travelling to the Wanda Metropolitano stadium later this month.
The title race has been neck-and-neck between the two Madrid teams, Barcelona having fallen away in recent weeks to finish a certain third – the first time the Catalans have finished outside the top two since 2008 – with Barca’s fate sealed on Sunday when a bitter 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Celta Vigo left them trailing on 76 points.
Real Madrid, champions last season, were 1- 0 up against Athletic Club at San Mames last weekend but the eyes of the fans of Los Blancos were on another match back in the capital, Atletico Madrid vs Osasuna of Pamplona, where the hosts were 1-0 down with seven minutes to go. Substitute Renan Lodi then equalised for Atletico, spurring the team on to apply more pressure to Osasuna, and Luis Suarez ended his five-game goal drought by rifling home Yannick Carrasco’s ball in the 88th minute of the game, giving Atletico the lead in the title race after 37 games, with only one to go. Atletico now head the leaderboard with 83 points, with rivals Real Madrid two points behind.
The concluding games of the season take place next Saturday when Atletico travel north to play Real Valladolid at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla, and Los Blancos take on Villarreal in Madrid. At this point, Los Colchoneros are favourites with bookmaker Betway offering odds of 1/ 4 that Diego Simeone’s side will win La Liga, for the first time since 2014. But a defeat or draw against Valladolid combined with a win for Real Madrid would produce yet another league title for manager Zinedine Zidane and his team. That said, bookies are reckoning this outcome is unlikely with SBK, for example, offering odds of 19/5 that Real Madrid will win the title.
It seems highly unlikely that Zidane will stay at Real Madrid, whatever the outcome of this season’s title race. The Frenchman, 48, is in his second spell as manager at the club, having won three consecutive Champions League titles during his first, between 2016 and 2018. He left only briefly and returned in 2019 but is thought to be dissatisfied with broken promises made by owner Florentino Perez regarding signings of new players. There is speculation that Massimiliano Allegri (former manager of Juventus) or Raul Gonzalez (former Real Madrid star, and current manager of Real Madrid Castilla) may replace Zizou.