Wednesday could have been a massive day in La Liga. Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid all played, and if one team were to drop points, the door to winning the title this year likely would have slammed shut.
Alas, all three sides won, two convincingly. Let's break down the results and where these scorelines leave Atlético with four jornadas to go.
- Barcelona did stuff to Deportivo. Horrible stuff. Almost unspeakable stuff. Luis Enrique's second crisis in two seasons came to an abrupt end as Barça stormed Riazor and scored eight against the hosts. Luis Suárez was responsible for seven of those goals (scored four, assisted three). And Marc Bartra scored, which means Depor should get relegated. But the Catalans held serve, maintaining top spot for another week.
- Atleti battled, Atleti suffered...but Atleti won, overcoming Athletic Club 1-0 at San Mamés. Fernando Torres scored a header moments before the half - his fifth straight game with a goal - while Jan Oblak and the defense came up with the goods to deny an Aritz Aduriz-less Athletic a crucial point in its battle for fourth place. While los rojiblancos held on to second place, Diego Simeone will again have to deal with Diego Godín's balky hamstring, which kept Europe's best center back on the pitch for only 10 minutes Wednesday. Do let us hope he recovers in a week.
- Finally, Real Madrid kept up with a 3-0 win over Villarreal. The Valencians are closing in on the final Champions League spot despite a poor showing at the Bernabéu. Goals from Karim Benzema, Lucas Vazquez (a particularly nice effort) and Luka Modric kept Real in third. Cristiano Ronaldo limped off on 90 minutes but he is probably ok.
Atlético could have used a functional Depor on Wednesday but the most important thing Simeone's men could do was win themselves. With three home games in the final four weeks - the sole away fixture, naturally, being at Levante's house (of horrors) - Atleti are positioned well for the run-in and know that four straight wins plus another Barcelona stumble (home to Sporting and Espanyol, away to Betis and Granada) will guarantee a second title in three years.
Real have it tougher, with only one home game left against a high-flying Valencia and a game away to Real Sociedad - where Zinedine Zidane's side (er, Carlo Ancelotti's at the time) lost last year. Real now need to win out and hope for two slip-ups higher up in the table to win a first league title since 2012.