By Tim Stannard
Atletico travel to take on Chelsea looking for a boosting bounce while Real Madrid prepare for a grueling night against Atalanta
Ordinarily, Atletico Madrid would be at their training ground today, prepping for a tantalizing home Champions League match in the Last 16 round against Chelsea.
The game is a chance to take a break from the stresses and strains of the LaLiga race with a new challenge. The opportunity to get back a bit of confidence and put away some of the missed chances in the double-headers against Levante.
Instead, because it's 2020 - well, it's 2021 but feels the same - Atletico Madrid are in Bucharest, Romania, preparing to play Tuesday's home game. That's due to COVID-19 restrictions on travelers coming into Spain. However, the outcome could still be the same against Thomas Tuchel's men.
There are two ways of looking at Saturday's 2-0 home loss to Levante for Atletico. Team 'glass half-empty' laments a huge chance to win the LaLiga title potentially being blown with seven points being dropped for the Rojiblancos over the past four LaLiga games.
Team 'glass half-full' - Diego Simeone is a member - says that it's nice to be in a position to drop points in a title race and that it's all about the journey.
Coach Zizou at Real Madrid knows all about the journey. A few weeks ago, the Real Madrid was being asked questions about his future - for the fourth time this season - but four dogged wins in a row in LaLiga have put Real Madrid three points from Atletico with one game played more, but the chance to close that with a Madrid Derby on March 7.
However, Real Madrid has its own Champions League challenge in hand - a competition which means an awful lot to club president, Florentino Perez. Madrid are traveling to Italy to take on an Atalanta side that remains a top four power in Serie A. The match is set to be another drain on the resources of an injury-hit team that is not exactly firing on all cylinders, despite the wins.
The Sports Burst live show at 11AM ET on beIN XTRA will be looking into which coach will be feeling a little happier in a week's time.
Sevilla have chance on Monday to push Barca down to fourth
The Monday morning vibe in Barcelona can be gleaned from the identical front page headline of the two sports papers in the city, Sport and Mundo Deportivo. They both yell a rather dramatic "Unforgivable!" reflecting on a Sunday draw at home to struggling Cadiz, which was the epitome of a club reaching rock bottom and then digging some more.
Indeed, Ronald Koeman made his own feelings abundantly clear on Sunday after the game that "I'm very disappointed, more so than last Tuesday." And that's saying something.
On Wednesday, Barcelona have the chance to keep shoveling away at the bottom of their metaphorical hole or, in stretching the metaphor beyond breaking point, starting to construct a ladder made out of hope.
A home match against Elche awaits on Wednesday - a team with just four LaLiga wins from 22 this season , so nothing can possibly go wrong.
Hold that thought a second, as things could go a little bit worse on Monday as the current nemesis of Barcelona - one of them anyway - are in action. Sevilla are playing the final game of the LaLiga round at Osasuna and a victory will put the team into third, above Barcelona.
There will be a chance to increase that lead even further on Saturday with a home match against Barcelona in LaLiga...and then the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal tie, where Sevilla currently hold a 2-0 lead.
Osasuna vs. Sevilla is live today on beIN SPORTS from 2:50PM ET, and Sevilla vs. Barcelona is live on Saturday from 10:05AM ET.
Marseille set to appoint Sampaoli
If it's any consolation to Barcelona fans - it probably isn't - PSG had a bit of a Champions League hangover as well with a 2-0 home defeat to Monaco. Indeed, that defeat as well as victories for Lille and Lyon meant that all three title rivals won. Lille are still leading the pack with a three point lead over Lyon, and four over PSG.
Meanwhile, a team that should be in the top four but aren't - Marseille - are set to announce on Monday the appointment of a new manager - Jorge Sampaoli.
According to RMC Sport, Sampaoli will be in place at the beginning of March, but was by no means the first choice pick with Marseille reportedly being turned down by Ernesto Valverde and Maurizio Sarri, coaches not enthused with the idea of a club in turmoil with fans who tried to storm the training center a few weeks ago.
Monday Night Soccer will look back at a particularly big weekend on beIN SPORTS and all the title races going on. Tune in from 9:30PM ET.