MADRID (AP) — The Spanish league title race now looks like a two-way fight, with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona heading for a championship showdown in the last round if they both win this weekend.
Real Madrid's 1-1 draw at Real Valladolid on Wednesday improved Atletico's chances of winning its first league title since 1996, although it will probably have to hold off Barcelona at Camp Nou in the last round. However, Atletico could be crowned champion with a victory against Malaga on Sunday if Barcelona fails to win at Elche.
Madrid's untimely draw gifted Barcelona the chance to win its fifth title in six seasons despite the defending champions recent stumbles through the closing stages of a turbulent season.
With two matches remaining, Atletico has 88 points, Barcelona 85, and Madrid 84.
Barcelona hosts Atletico on the final match day, and would defend its title if it wins the last two games.
Here are five things to know about the 37th round of matches:
BARCELONA IN THE HUNT
Barcelona has been the big winner in Atletico and Real's recent slip-ups, having written off its title defense two weeks ago. But now there is suddenly renewed hope that the team can avoid a first season without a major trophy since 2007.
"I never thought these results would happen," Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez said. "The league has given us a second chance. We've got to go for it."
Madrid must decide whether it will continue fighting for the league title despite slim chances of winning, or focus on getting the squad healthy for the Champions League final on May 24.
Forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria and defender Pepe all came away with injury problems from the draw at Valladolid, while Gareth Bale missed the match completely along with defenders Dani Carvajal and Raphaele Varane.
"We'll know soon. I don't think Cristiano Ronaldo has a major problem," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said ahead of Sunday's game at Celta Vigo. "Pepe finished the game and we'll see. I don't think Di Maria is a big worry."
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