Atlético Madrid's defeat at Sporting throws Barça a huge chance to extend their Liga lead / clubatleticodemadrid.com

Barça’s bid to retain the Liga title took a massive and somewhat unexpected boost on Saturday when second placed Atlético Madrid were defeated 2-1 at struggling Sporting Gijón.

A tremendous free-kick from Griezmann after 29 minutes looked to have set Atlético, who Barça will also play in the Champions League quarter finals, on fine course against the side that is currently second from bottom in the table. But goals from Sanabria and Carlos Castro turned things around in the second half.

FC Barcelona were unable to take full advantage of Atlético's slip-up but, nevertheless, their 2-2 draw at Villarreal on Sunday sees the Catalans extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points.

Third placed Real  Madrid, who are the next visitors to the Camp Nou after the international break, hosted Barça's Copa del Rey final opponents Sevilla on Sunday at the Bernabeu in an enthralling encounter.

Zinedine Zidane's team won 4-0 in a game that included a missed penalty and a wrongly disallowed goal for either side. Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Jese were on the scoresheet as Madrid narrowed the gap between themselves and neighbours Atlético to just one point.

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