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Atletico & Barca settle for draws

Madrid: Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will play a La Liga title decider at the Nou Camp stadium next weekend after leaders Atletico drew 1-1 at home to Malaga and second-placed Barca were held to a 0-0 stalemate at Elche on Sunday.

On a day of nerve-jangling tension, when Atletico came desperately close to a late goal that would have clinched the championship, Real Madrid dropped out of the title race when they suffered a surprise 0-2 loss at Celta Vigo that left them five points behind their city rivals with one game remaining.

Atletico are top on 89 points from 37 matches, with Barca on 86 and Real, who were missing key players through injury at Celta including top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, on 84.

If Barca beat Atletico next Sunday they will be champions as they would have a better head-to-head record after the title rivals drew 0-0 at the Calderon in Madrid in January.

A draw would be enough for Atletico to secure their first domestic league title since 1996, when current coach Diego Simeone was in the team, and become the first team other than Spain’s wealthy big two to win La Liga since Valencia in 2004.

Samuel Sanchez gave Malaga a shock lead 25 minutes from time at Atletico’s packed Calderon stadium, where the fans have been enjoying the club’s best season in years.

(Reuters)