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Barcelona vs. Villarreal: A Heck of a Point!

The way they achieved it was weirdly disappointing, but Barcelona took another step towards the title.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona led a two-goal lead slip at El Madrigal against a feisty Villarreal team that just would never quit. It was disappointing for Luis Enrique to see his team collapse from a position in which you could say the Liga was almost wrapped up. But compared to the start of the weekend, Barcelona are in a stronger position than ever, and that's worth talking about.

Forget the particulars of the game and focus on the big picture. Atletico Madrid lost to Sporting Gijon, a team that hadn't won in eight games and was rooted to the bottom of the table. Meanwhile, Barcelona gained a point against the #4 team in the league playing at home. This is the same fixture that Atleti and Real Madrid both lost this season.

Now, Barcelona are up 9 points ahead of Atletico and 10 points ahead of Real. Make that 9.5 ahead of Atleti given that the Blaugrana own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Even if Atletico gain 9 points more, Barcelona are champions. And you can basically count it as 10.5 ahead of Real Madrid, since Barcelona won the first game 4-0. Even if Barça lose 4-1, which would be madness, they'll still own that tiebreaker.

That means essentially, Barcelona need to drop points in at least four games out of the remaining eight to lose the league. That's assuming Atletico win every remaining game, which is no guarantee.

What's notable is that even dropping points in four games, Barcelona could still guarantee the title if they take four draws or three draws and a loss. Again, that's assuming Atletico win out. Let's not even get into the scenarios Real need.

While we're here fancifully talking about the idea of Barcelona losing three of the last eight, the Blaugrana have lost just two of the thirty matches this whole Liga season, the last coming in early October.

OK, Barcelona do have El Clasico coming up, but it's at home. And they are visiting Real Sociedad at Anoeta, a fixture they always seem to lose, but La Real haven't won any of their past 5 and are in 11th place. You'd expect Barcelona to take at least a point out of all that, but even assuming they don't... they'd still need to drop points in two out of the six remaining games.

Of those six, three are at Camp Nou, and against teams ranked 12th, 14th and 19th. The other three are away, but they're against teams ranked 10th, 13th, and 16th.

So yes, while it must frustrate Luis Enrique that his men failed to fully capitalize, and even though there are two traditionally tough fixtures coming up, and even though you never really know what the future holds... Barcelona are in a very, very strong position that only got stronger this weekend.

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