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‘Worst deal ever’: Fans rub salt in Barca wounds as discarded Suarez edges Atletico to title & Messi sees La Liga hopes die

Heading into the final round of La Liga fixtures next weekend, it will be table toppers Atletico in pole position for the title as they cling to a two-point lead over crosstown rivals Real Madrid.

That gap is thanks to a pulsating comeback victory from Diego Simeone’s men against Osasuna on Sunday, as Atleti scored twice inside the last eight minutes to overturn Ante Budimir’s 75th-minute opening goal for the visitors.

Suarez – a pre-season arrival from Barcelona after being deemed surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou – steered home the winner in the 88th minute for his 20th league goal of the campaign.

Atleti know that victory in their final game away at relegation-threatened Valladolid next weekend will seal a first La Liga title in seven years for the club.     

Real Madrid, meanwhile, are still in contention to retain the crown they won last season after earning a 1-0 win at Athletic Club Bilbao on Sunday, courtesy of a second-half goal from Nacho.

Zinedine Zidane’s men close out their season at home to seventh-placed Villarreal next Sunday, hoping that Atleti slip up and they can capitalize. 

Meanwhile Barcelona, who before Sunday stood only a remote mathematical chance of sneaking the title, will not finish in the top two for the first time since 2008 after suffering defeat at home to Celta Vigo, despite taking the lead through a Lionel Messi header.

That was the Argentine star’s 30th league goal of the season – the ninth time he has achieved that feat – but it wasn’t enough as his team went down to a double from Santi Mina.

The second of those goals came in the 89th minute after Barcelona had seen Clement Lenglet sent off for picking up a second yellow card five minutes earlier.  

As Suarez continued to put in clutch performances for Atletico, fans rubbed salt into the Barcelona wounds at their apparent mistake in letting the 34-year-old go in a shake-up last summer.

Some pondered whether the step had even been the worst bit of business they had seen in football, especially when Barcelona were said to be mulling a move for aging Argentine ace Sergio Aguero this summer when he leaves Manchester City, potentially to fill the void left by Suarez. 

After Barcelona’s title fate was confirmed, attention will be ratcheted up regarding what that means for star man Messi.

Following his aborted attempt to leave the Camp Nou last summer, efforts will be redoubled among Barcelona’s fellow European elite to entice the six-time Ballon d’Or winner away, with Messi out of contract at the end of June.

Barcelona close a disappointing campaign next Sunday away at bottom-of-the-table Eibar. Barca will hope to get a result to keep hold of third place, as they currently stand just two points ahead of fourth-place Sevilla, who host Alaves in their final fixture.    

© 2021, paradox. All rights reserved.

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