Barcelona wasted a giant chance to go top of the table and stamp their authority in the race for the La Liga title thanks to a shocking loss to Granada at home, but once the dust settles and the anger dissipates it is important to realize that Barça remain very much alive in the hunt for the league championship.
The loss does mean that Barça no longer rely only on their own results, but they remain just two points behind leaders Atlético Madrid and equal on points with second place Real Madrid. Because the head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker in La Liga and Barça lost the two games against Real this season, they cannot finish with the same amount of points as Los Blancos.
For that reason, Barça must win their remaining five games and rely on Madrid drawing once (assuming Real win the other four) to finish ahead of them. Because Barça face Atlético next week and simply need a win to overtake the Colchoneros for good, the race is really against Real — as long as Barça don’t have another Granada disaster and do their homework in the final five matches.
And the potential for a Madrid draw is quite high. In addition to a plethora of injuries and a squad running very low on energy with a Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea to come next week, Madrid face a tough schedule to finish the season. They play Osasuna this weekend, then it’s fourth-place Sevilla at home, Barça conquerors Granada away, Athletic Bilbao away and Villarreal at home.
Barça have Valencia away, the season-defining clash with Atlético at home, then Levante away, Celta Vigo at home and Eibar away on the last day. Barça certainly have a more favorable schedule on paper, but everything hinges on that Atlético game.
Winning at Valencia on Sunday is absolutely crucial not only to avoid making their job even harder, but to go into the biggest week of the season in good spirits. If they do win, Barça will still be alive, and then it’s all about rooting against Real Madrid.
That shouldn’t be too hard.