Barcelona defeat leaves the door open for Real Madrid title celebrations next weekend

Madrid, April 25 (IANS) Real Madrid only need one point from their next five matches to claim the La Liga championship and a draw at home to Espanyol next Saturday would fulfill the task.

FC Barcelona’s surprising 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday leaves Barca and Sevilla 15 points behind Real Madrid with just 15 points left to play for this season. Sevilla can’t overtake Real Madrid as they have an inferior head-to-head goal average, so if Real Madrid avoids defeat or Barca fail to win at home to Mallorca, the title will be Madrid’s.

Barca, who were once again without the injured Gerard Pique and Pedri, put in another disappointing display against a rival that took the lead in the seventh minute and was able to hold on despite 12 minutes of injury time.

The defeat follows a 1-0 league setback at home to Cadiz and a 3-2 defeat in the Camp Nou against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League, meaning Barca have lost three consecutive home games in the same season for the first time this century, reports Xinhua.

“We weren’t ourselves in the first half, we didn’t have the personality that you need to show in this kind of match,” said coach Xavi Hernandez after the final whistle.

Although Xavi said his players “showed more desire” in the second half, he was clearly not content with his players, admitting that their rivals “were playing for their lives and you have to equal the desire and will of your rivals.”

He also looked at the underlying problems of the club, which is conditioned by a debt of around 1,000 million euros.

“There are both football and economic emergencies at the club. It is a difficult situation and we have to accept it,” added Xavi.