Tuesday's soccer news starts in Spain, where it rarely takes much of an interest to figure out which teams are in the top three. It's the order that's trickier. Since the resumption of the season, Real Madrid has passed Barcelona for 1st-place, 71 points to 69 with Atletico 11 points back of Barca in 3rd. All three are still alive in the Champions League. In this weirdest of seasons, that has no impact on the regular season. La Liga ends on July 19 with the Champions League resuming in August.
Short of a tie at the top of the table, Real Madrid passing Barcelona means that one of Spain's big two is in somewhat of a crisis. Real Madrid is on a five-game winning streak since the season resumed. Barcelona is undefeated, but drew against Sevilla and last Saturday at Celta Vigo. That dispiriting point was good news for Celta Vigo, extending its buffer just above the relegation zone. That Leo Messi combined with Luis Suarez twice only to give up both leads isn't exactly the story Barca wants to tell. The point of a squad like Barca's is that they don't create those type of scenarios for themselves over 90 minutes against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Meanwhile, Atletico is also undefeated since the return of La Liga, extending a streak that started on February 8. Two of their four losses this season came at home to Barcelona on December 1 and away to Real Madrid on February 1, the last time they didn't take at least a point.
Playing at Barcelona later today (4pm ET - beIN Sport), the pressure is on Atletico to show that they can keep La Liga a big three rather than reverting to a big two. A win would pull them within eight points of Barca with five games remaining. It would also help them keep pace with what's a four-point cushion above 4th-place Sevilla.
"I'm not just focused on winning or not winning," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "I focus on what's happening as a result of the team's good work during lockdown.... We returned with a plan which could have turned out to be good or not depending on our results. Every player wants to get involved, and the fact that we can make five substitutions means we'll need them all. That's the situation. We've won 1-0, 1-0, 2-1. The opponents have been close to equalizing, but we could have also won some of those matches by a larger margin. The main thing is we've always competed. And as long as that's the case, we'll be true to the path Atletico Madrid has always followed."
Also in the soccer news, Schalke 04 chairman Clemens Tonnies has left the club. "We, the supervisory board of Schalke 04, deeply regret the decision Clemens Tonnies has made," vice-chairman Dr. Jens Buchta said. "As chairman, he has helped shaped the board in the past years and decades with a mix of his down-to-earth attitude and dynamism. He was the driving force behind a number of processes. His experience and expertise in the role of chairman of the supervisory board will be hard to replace."
Inside World Football's Paul Nicholson explains what happened with Serie A's broadcast rights. SI.com's Will Laws looks at the clubs in danger of relegation from the Premier League. The Guardian's Jonathan Liew with a reminder that what we're watching isn't normal without fans.
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