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Atletico Madrid and Barcelona draw as Real Madrid close in



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Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid are highly favored to end APOEL's dream Champions League run. (Photo: PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)

In La Liga, the weekend’s results saw the door reopening for real Madrid as both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid slipped up to let Los Blancos close the gap on the top two to a single point. Barcelona are still favourites with Betfair to win this season’s league title but with Barcelona expected hit their annual wobble in February and Atletico still to stutter, Madrid have a real chance of pushing through to the league title and the Betis win was a real statement of intent.

In the first Seville/Madrid clash of the weekend, Saturday saw Real Madrid go to Seville and inflict a 0-5 defeat on Real Betis. It was a performance by the Andalucian side that cost Garrido his job, but for Madrid manager Ancellotti, it was the ideal sort of result to try and exert a little pressure on Atli and the Blaugrana. Goals from Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Di Maria and Arsenal target Morata, spread throughout the game made it a comfortable night for Real.

As Barcelona sought to respond away to Levante, the little Valencian club stole an early goal inside ten minutes from Vyntra, and despite a Piquet equaliser a further ten minutes into  the game, Levante managed to keep their illustrious Catalan neighbours out with stout defence and an occasional breakout.

All then seemed set for Atletico to take advantage, as Sevilla visited the Vicente Calderon. It seemed that the script was beig followed when Villa put Atli ahead in the first half, but despite periods of concerted pressure, the important second goal never came, and Sevilla always posed a thrweat on the break. The increasing fear of the Mardistas turned to frustration when Juanfran was penalised for pulling Bacca’s shirt, and a pealty was awarded. Not even the excellent Thibaut Courtois could prevent the equaliser as Croatian international Rakatic fired home the spot kick.  After that, Atli powered forward in search of the equaliser, but could not get the vital goal.

With the results now having closed the gap to a single point Real Madrid will feel increasingly confident that the sides can be hauled back in, and a real title challenge sustained. With Ronaldo in prime form and Gareth Bale increasingly finding his feet on Spanish soil, the La Liga title is very much up for grabs.

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