Lionel Messi hit a 26th-minute free kick and the Barcelona defense held on for a 1-0 win on Saturday. The victory opened up an eight-point gap to Atletico Madrid, all but deciding the title.
Atleti is now just five points back of Barcelona for first. The double game weeks continue as the red and whites must travel to one of the toughest places to play for the biggest match of the season.
Real Madrid may only be the fourth favorite in the books, but with their pedigree they cannot be overlooked.
The grueling Thursday-Sunday schedule turns the focus right back to La Liga. Atleti return home for a match vs. parent club Athletic Bilbao this weekend.
The Europa league knockout stage starts with a match at FC Copenhagen on Thursday.
After a stretch of three games in which Atletico were not themselves, Simeone went back to basics and turned the team around. The question now is if they can sustain this form and outdo Barcelona for the title.
Juventus, who have won six consecutive championships, are defending their title. Napoli, who finished just five points back last season, lead the league this year, one point over Juventus.