Rival watch: Real Madrid keep pace with FC Barcelona in La Liga, Bayern Munich fall ahead of Champions League tie

Rival watch: Real Madrid keep pace with FC Barcelona in La Liga, Bayern Munich fall ahead of Champions League tie

Barça's domestic rivals beat Sevilla while Pep Guardiola's team lose to Bayer Leverkusen Fellow Spanish Cup finalists Athletic Club Bilbao draw at Atlético Madrid

With the final month of the European footballing season upon us, FC Barcelona couldn't be better positioned to make a trophy haul for the ages. The Catalans have already secured a finals berth in the Spanish Cup — to be played at Camp Nou on 30 May — they currently sit in first place in La Liga with three games to play, while only two UEFA Champions League semi-final matches standing between Barça and the June 6th final in Berlin.

Barça's three rivals — Athletic Club Bilbao, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich — all played domestic league matches over the weekend, producing a mixed bag of results.

Athletic held in scoreless draw

In what was expected to be a fierce battle between a visiting Athletic Club side fighting to enter the picture for European play next season and hosts Atlético de Madrid — looking to keep a firm grip on their Champions League slot — neither side created many chances as the game ended in a scoreless draw.

The Basques didn't get a single shot on goal and committed 20 fouls while the Madrileños had multiple goals negated on offside calls. Athletic's point still leaves them on the outside looking in with 48 points, six behind Villarreal for the final berth in the Europa League.

Madrid win in wild affair

Real Madrid, breathing down Barça's backs in the home stretch of La Liga, doesn't seem to want to go away quietly. The all-whites came into the weekend two points behind the Catalans in the league table — and provisionally fell to five back following Barça's astounding 8–0 rout of Córdoba on Saturday afternoon — before keeping pace with a thrilling 3–2 victory at fifth-place Sevilla in the weekend's marquee league matchup on Saturday night.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat trick, scoring twice in a ten-minute span that saw Sevilla play briefly with ten men while they had an injured player being attended to on the sideline. Ronaldo's trifecta moves him past Lionel Messi in the neck and neck race for the Pichichi and keeps Real within striking distance of FC Barcelona — two points back with three to play.

Bayern fall before big date with Barça

Former FC Barcelona and current Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola must have been hoping for more inspiring football from his side in the week leading up to one of the most anticipated Champions League semi-finals in years. If he had been, Guardiola will be making his maiden voyage back to Camp Nou harbouring a dearth of optimism after his squad were defeated twice in the last six days.

On Tuesday Bayern were ousted in the semi-finals of the German Cup by arch-nemesis Borussia Dortmund (1–1, 2–0 on penalty kicks) after the Bavarians failed to convert even once from 11 metres, going 0 for 4 from the spot. The loss means Bayern have no chance at a treble this season.

And things didn't get any better over the weekend either, as Guardiola's side, hampered by injuries throughout the spring, rested as many players as they could while falling to Bayer Leverkusen 2–0 in Bundesliga action. Although Bayern wrapped up the Bundesliga title last weekend, they have now fallen for just the 5th and 6th times this season across all competitions. Overall, they've only lost three times in the league, twice in the Champions League, and once in the German Cup.

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