Barcelona suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, handing Real Madrid the chance to win La Liga if they draw at home to Español next weekend. Barça’s place in the top four is not secure either; a third consecutive defeat at Camp Nou continued their late-season wobble and saw them squander the chance to pull away in the race for Champions League qualification.
Madrid remains 15 points clear with five games left to play. While Barcelona has a better head-to-head, Carlo Ancelotti’s side knows they will be uncatchable if they take just a point from Español on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Barcelona should still have enough for the top four, given they sit six points clear of Real Betis in fifth, with five games left to play, but winning this game in hand against an out-of-form Rayo side would undoubtedly have made the run-in more comfortable.