Barcelona's Neymar reacts after missing a scoring opportunity during their Spanish First Division soccer match against Granada at Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada, April 12, 2014.
Barcelona's Neymar reacts after missing a scoring chance in their Spanish First Division match against Granada at Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada     Reuters

Three days after they were dumped out of the Champions League quarter-finals, Barcelona completed a tragic week for their La Liga title aspirations with a calamitous 1-0 loss against lowly Granada to give Real Madrid a huge boost in the title race.

After having looked so unassailable for much of the season, Barca have now recorded back-to-back defeats in two vital matches. Tata Martino's side registered nearly 30 shots but only one player scored in the game: Yacine Brahimi – who became the Granada hero with the only goal of the game in the 16th minute.

Barca lost it all in Los Carmenes: faith, hope and possibly La Liga. The ability to control the ball is inversely proportional to the lack of firepower in front of goal, besides Neymar's and Leo Messi's lack of punch. Meanwhile Granada took advantage of their chances with series of counterattacks a source of constant threat to goalkeeper Pinto.

Messi was the most criticised player in their Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid as he just ran a mile more than Pinto. Many fans had hoped Messi's reaction would come against Granada, but it didn't. And again, his participation was disappointing - especially in the first-half - and his contribution was minimal.

With just five games left, the only way to bury the season's disappointments is by winning Wednesday's Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid.

Unlike Messi, Angel Di Maria dominated Real Madrid's 4-0 victory against Almeria. The Argentine, who was also criticised in their defeat in Dortmund after a poor showing, was back to his best just three days before Copa del Rey final against Barca.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo, it was Di Maria who drove the team on opening scoring in the 27th minute with an unstoppable shot – he also played a part in the second goal.

Gareth Bale's goal sealed victory in a match in which Isco and Alvaro Morata also shone.

In the last round against Real Sociedad, it was Bale who took the Ronaldo role with a brilliant goal that ensured Real did not miss their Portuguese talisman. And with CR7 likely to miss Wednesday's final and doubtful for the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final through injury, Bale will have to carry the team and justify the world record-breaking transfer fee Real paid for him.

The Portuguese has missed a few games this season and Bale has always responded, but now is the real test – and Los Blancos' fans expect him to pass with flying colours.

Atletico remain relentless in their pursuit of the La Liga title. Cholo Simeone's side moved closer to a first league title in almost two decades when Diego Godin and Diego Costa scored in a 2-0 win at 10-man Getafe – Los Rojiblancos are well placed to become the first club other than the big two to win Spain's domestic league since Valencia in 2004.

The leaders took advantage of Barca's defeat to keep themselves three points clear of second-placed Real Madrid – Atletico have the goal-difference advantage in their favour in case of a stalemate at the end of La Liga.

However, their hopes suffered a heavy blow as leading scorer Costa was taken off on a stretcher after scoring a goal – fortunately, shortly afterwards he was said to have suffered only a bruise to the shin and nothing serious.

Sevilla closed to within three points of fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao, who host Malaga, when a Kevin Gameiro double sealed a 2-0 win at 10-man city rivals Real Betis – Sevilla have 56 points, with Bilbao on 59 and in pole position to secure a berth in Champions League qualification next season.


Granada 1-0 Barcelona

Real Madrid 4-0 Almeria

Getafe 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Valencia 2-1 Elche

Espanyol 2-2 Rayo

Osasuna 0-0 Valladolid

Celta 2-2 Real Sociedad

Villarreal 1-0 Levante

Betis 0-2 Sevilla

Athletic - Malaga (Monday-22:00)