Atletico wins, keeps Barcelona from clinching Spanish title

Atletico wins, keeps Barcelona from clinching Spanish title

Atletico wins, keeps Barcelona from clinching Spanish title

But it still remains a question of when and not if they will be crowned champions and next week's Champions League semi-final against Liverpool has assumed priority.

Carles Alena and Luis Suarez ensured the Blaugrana picked up all three points against Alaves at Mendizorroza on Tuesday night and they could win the title themselves with a win when they host Levante at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

He soon forced Pacheco into a save after a trademark weaving run but Messi - and Barcelona - played well within themselves in the closing stages knowing their greatest challenge awaits in eight days' time.

Barcelona have almost clinched La Liga for the second straight season and ahead of their match with Alaves, the Catalan giants had a nine-point lead in in the league with five games remaining. "You can't put them away in a case and then just bring them out for one match", said Valverde after the match according to Marca.

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"The suggestion that it was about the Golden Shoe. well, we focus on winning".

"We'll see what happens in Atletico's match", Alena said. "I think we deserve this title, we've been the best team".

Speaking on his decision to leave Messi out of his starting XI, Valverde explained that he did it simply to give the 31-year-old some rest, although he also believed giving the forward some minutes was important too.

Other regular starters rested by Valverde on Tuesday included midfielder Arthur, central defender Clement Lenglet and leftback Jordi Alba.

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Barca controlled the ball in the first half but failed to open the scoring until the 54th minute when Alena scored with a left-foot shot from the middle of the area following a pass from Sergi Roberto. It hasn't lost in the league since November, when it fell 4-3 to Real Betis at home.

Real Valladolid took a step toward escaping relegation with a 1-0 home win against Girona, who are also trying to avoid demotion.

Girona, which has lost six in a row, dropped to 17th, just outside the relegation zone which is now occupied by Levante, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano.

Huesca left the bottom of the table for the first time since the seventh round by beating Sociedad Deportiva Eibar 2-0 at home with two remarkable second-half goals.

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