Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will play a La Liga
title decider at the Nou Camp stadium
next weekend after leaders Atletico drew 1-1 at
home to Malaga and second-placed Barca were
held to a 0-0 stalemate at Elche.
On a day of nerve-jangling tension, when
Atletico came desperately close to a late goal
that would have clinched the championship,
Real Madrid dropped out of the title race
when they suffered a surprise 2-0 loss at Celta
Vigo that left them five points behind their city
rivals with one game remaining.
Samuel Sanchez gave Malaga a shock lead 25
minutes from time at Atletico's packed Calderon
stadium, where the fans have been enjoying the
club's best season in years.
Jose Sosa levelled for the home side, who play
Real in the Champions League final on May 24,
in the 74th minute and Adrian came close to a
winner in stoppage time but was denied by
a brilliant save from Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
At Elche's Martinez Valero arena in Alicante,
Barca created plenty of chances but as so often
this season they failed to take them.
Atletico Madrid stuttering
Their bid for a fifth La Liga title in six seasons
remains alive, however, despite consecutive
draws as Atletico again failed to take advantage
of Barca's stumble.
Real's faint hopes of pipping Atletico and Barca
to the title were extinguished when a Charles
double either side of halftime condemned them
to a defeat that ended their chances of a
Champions League, La Liga and King's Cup
Atletico are top on 89 points from 37 matches,
with Barca on 86 and Real, who were missing
key players through injury at Celta including top
scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, on 84 points.
If Barca beat Atletico next they will be
champions as they would have a better head-to-
head record after the title rivals drew 0-0 at
the Calderon in Madrid in January.
A draw would be enough for Atletico to secure
their first domestic league title since 1996,
when current coach Diego Simeone was in the
team, and become the first team other
than Spain's wealthy big two to win La Liga since
Valencia in 2004.