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La Liga round-up: What happened this weekend

La Liga round-up: Atleti's shock loss, Barca's frustration, Real Madrid close gap

February 23, 2021 By Michelle Bonsu
League leaders Atletico Madrid suffered a surprise defeat as their city rivals Real Madrid narrowed the gap.

It's been a very interesting season for fans who actively follow La Liga, who have become accustomed to the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid sitting in pole position to clinch the league title. This time around, however, another side is looking to upset the apple cart. Atletico Madrid, who are the only non-Barcelona or Real Madrid side other than Valencia to win the title since the turn of the century, are hoping to win their first crown since the 2013/2014 season. However, Diego Simeone's men have hit a bump in the road, which has allowed their city rivals to close the distance.

Let's have a look at what took place over this weekend's round of fixtures.

Top five teams in La Liga up to February 23

Atletico Madrid have now seen their lead cut down to just three points after failing to win their last two games, while Real Madrid and Sevilla continue to narrow the gap on first and third respectively thanks to their winning runs

Who are the top three scorers in La Liga?

After failing to score as his side slumped to a 2-0 loss, Luis Suarez now finds himself level with former Barcelona colleague Lionel Messi in the race for the top scorer's prize

Top La Liga headlines

Barcelona's winning streak snapped: It's been a frustrating week for Blaugrana fans, who first saw their side humiliated at the Camp Nou by a rampaging PSG in the Champions League, followed by a disappointing one-all stalemate against Cadiz. Prior to that match, Ronald Koeman's team had not dropped any points in La Liga since the year started, and came into Saturday's tie on a seven game winning streak.

Unfortunately for the Catalan powerhouse, Cadiz, who are back in the top flight after securing promotion from the second tier last term, had other ideas. Despite winning just once so far this year, and being on a four game losing streak prior to their trip to Camp Nou, the Yellow Submarine refused to give up, and a last minute penalty was enough to undo Messi's earlier effort from the spot and give Alvaro Cervera's side a much-needed point.

This has seen the Blaugrana slip down to fourth spot following Sevilla's 2-0 away win against Osasuna on Monday evening - making their upcoming meeting with the Europa League champions one not to miss this weekend. Of course, Barcelona can regain third spot with a win over relegation-threatened Elche in their make-up game on Wednesday - but it's important to know that Sevilla still do have their own make-up game to play as well.

Levante prove to be a real nuisance for Atletico Madrid: Due to some interesting re-scheduling, current league leaders Atleti had to play Levante twice in just three days. And much to the chagrin of Diego Simeone's side, they were unable to win either of those games, first being held to a 1-1 draw in Valencia midweek before being beaten 2-0 in Madrid this past weekend.

With just one point earned from those two games, Los Rojiblancos now will be keen on rebounding when they take on Villarreal in order to keep city rivals Real Madrid, who have crept up on them thanks to a highly successful February so far.

Interestingly, the same Levante that's been the source of Atleti's problems lately also caused trouble for Real Madrid last month as they edged out the Spanish titans 2-1.

A revival for Zizou: It's been a tough season for the all-time Champions League winners, but Real Madrid seem to have gotten some wind behind their sails. Los Blancos will come into their next league game on a four game winning streak, with shutouts in three of those matches. Prior to their home tie against Real Sociedad, however, Zidane's squad will take on Atalanta in the Champions League round of 16.

Considering the lack of experience La Dea have in this competition, Real Madrid, who made history as the first team in the modern era to win three straight titles, are viewed as the natural favorites, but anyone who's followed Serie A this season will know that it would be unwise for the capital giants to dismiss the plucky club from Bergamo.

Top La Liga matches: February 26 to March 1, 2021

Sevilla vs Barcelona: A top-four clash awaits as Sevilla take on Lionel Messi and company on Saturday. The hosts have been in sparkling form lately, and will be looking to make it a sixth straight victory as they aim to finish as high in the table as possible. Impressively, Lopetegui's men have maintained clean sheets in all five of their prior league games, and have yet to lose to Barcelona this season; their most recent result saw them beat Ronald Koeman's troops the Copa del Rey semi's. Ironically, perhaps, former Blaugrana midfielder Ivan Rakitic scored the game decider to give his side a 2-0 win.

Barcelona, meanwhile, will be desperate to get back to winning ways following their 1-1 draw with Cadiz, and will certainly look to use their midweek make-up clash with Elche to give them the right momentum ahead of their visit to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán this weekend.

Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid: With just four points from their last five league games, the Yellow Submarine are struggling to stay afloat. Although they sit in sixth spot, they are in danger of sliding out of the European football berths if they don't get their act together fast. However, they'll likely face a tricky proposition when Atleti come to town on Sunday as Los Rojiblancos will be gunning for a win in order to put some distance between themselves and a recently-resurgent Real Madrid.

Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad: Wrapping up this round of fixtures will be a battle between the "Reals" - that is, Real Madrid and Real Sociedad. Both teams have had an excellent February, and will look to kick off March in the same rich vein of form.

Make sure you don't miss out on these key games and stay on top of all the action by checking out our bespoke La Liga match page.

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