Barca or Real! Who has the easiest route to the title?
As the race for the La Liga hots up over the next few weeks, Goal takes a look at the respective run-ins for the two title contenders in 2014-15
The race for La Liga is on. Only two points separate leaders Barcelona and second-placed Real Madrid with seven rounds remaining and 21 points still up for grabs. So advantage Barca at this stage? Not necessarily.
Both Barca and Madrid face tough tests this weekend after their Champions League exertions in midweek. Luis Enrique's side are at home to in-form Valencia on Saturday (a fixture they lost last season), while Madrid host Malaga after their goalless game at Atletico on Tuesday, with Karim Benzema ruled out through injury.
Having won 3-1 in Paris against PSG on Wednesday that all but sealed their place in the last four, Barca can concentrate on their Liga clash with little concern for Tuesday's second leg.
Madrid, however, face another difficult derby against Atletico on Wednesday and coach Carlo Ancelotti will want to conserve energies for that crucial clash - especially as his team have now failed to win their last seven meetings with Diego Simeone's side.
"Benzema is not available against Malaga," Ancelotti said on Friday. "But we are going to put out our strongest side because Malaga are a very dangerous team."
Next weekend, the two teams both have potentially tricky games again, with Barca in action at Espanyol in the Catalan derby and Madrid up against Celta Vigo in Galicia.
Later this month, Luis Enrique's men host Getafe and Ancelotti's side welcome Getafe to the Santiago Bernabeu in games both should win comfortably. And after that, Barca travel to Cordoba as Madrid are at Sevilla in the 35th rounds of matches. That, undoubtedly, is a huge test for Real, with Unai Emery's in-form team unbeaten at the Sanchez Pizjuan in over a year and fresh from frustrating the Blaugrana in a 2-2 draw last weekend.
Madrid then host Valencia in the 26th round of La Liga, with Barca up against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou. The two teams lost the away fixture in early January, but both will be expected to prevail at home. However, those games fall in the middle of the two legs of the Champions League semi-finals, with Barca almost certainly in action and Madrid possibly as well if they can get past Atletico.
The Catalans then travel to Atleti in the penultimate round of the Primera Division, a fixture that could be crucial to their chances of claiming the title. After failing to beat Simeone's side in six games last term, Barca have won all three meetings with the Rojiblancos so far in 2014-15. Nevertheless, this remains a tough test.
Madrid, meanwhile, are away to Espanyol in a fixture that traditionally causes more problems to Barcelona due to their local rivalry than to Real.
And if it goes down to the final match of the season, the team in front will be expected to claim the title as Luis Enrique's side host Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou and Ancelotti's men face Getafe at the Bernabeu.
A week after the conclusion of La Liga, Barca are also in action in the final of the Copa del Rey against Athletic Club at Camp Nou, while either or both of Spain's two biggest clubs could feature in the Champions League showpiece on June 6.
"We are still leaders," Luis Enrique said after last weekend's 2-2 draw at Sevilla saw their advantage cut to two points. "I'm not very good at mathematics, but we won't know the outcome until the 38th round of matches. There is a long way to go yet."
If the two teams finish level on points, Madrid will win the Primera Division thanks to their slightly superior record in the two Clasico clashes, having won 3-1 at home and lost 2-1 away.
Last season, both Barca and Real missed out to Atletico in La Liga. This time, however, one of them will be crowned champions. The race is well and truly on.
By Ben Hayward
Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Barcelona
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid CF