Today, Spanish Football's Atletico Madrid won a hard fought game against hosts Real Betis at the Estado Benito Villamarin by a score of 2-0 putting pressure on the participants of the clasico encounter later this afternoon.
The highly anticipated upcoming match between Barcelona FC and Real Madrid will clarify table positions by day's end.
The game on the Villamarin pitch was overly rough particularly in the way the Betis defense wanted to corral the Madrid strikers. The first half ended 0-0 with a disallowed Diego Costa goal for off sides (though replays showed he was on sides). But more telling for the eventual result, the tempers between various pairs of contestants were actually rising as the half's final whistle blew.
At the 56th minute of the second half Brian Rodriguez received his second yellow and was dismissed. Two minutes later Gabi's 20 yard strike put the visitors ahead. Diego Costa's goal, Atletico's second, came seven minutes later (65') courtesy of a beautiful Koke headed assist in the box that left the ball in perfect position for the striker to slot it in with his left leg from close range. Koke's assist kept him second only to Cesc Fabregas on the assists table.
Costa's tally was the 23 goal of his La Liga campaign and ensured Atletico could occupy the top spot on the table for a few hours. Costa is in second place on the scorers' table, two behind Cristiano Ronaldo and five ahead of Lionel Messi.
After this weekend there will be nine more games to go and the championship may well be down to the clasico and the encounter between Atletico and Barcelona on the last day of the La Liga calendar.
What may also soon be determined are Champions League slots for next year's campaign with the top three teams on the table currently separated by 11 points from the fourth-placed team.