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Fab Five battle for supremacy in La Liga

By Josey Samuel
Lionel Messi

Terrassa (Barcelona), December 5: When Barcelona dropped points against Celta Vigo last Saturday (December 2), it looked as though it could open up the title race, but Valencia and champions Real Madrid failed to capitalise on the slip up from the Catalan giants.

The results elsewhere mean that Ernesto Valverde's team extend their lead to five points and the chase behind them is tighter than ever after 14 games.

Second-placed Valencia (31) were beaten by a solitary goal at Getafe and Real (28) could not muster more than a 0-0 draw against Athletic Club, while Atletico Madrid, who climbed to third place, (30) and Sevilla (28) closed in with victories.

A point behind Valencia are Atletico, who beat Real Sociedad with a last- minute header from Antoine Griezmann.

Joint on 28 points, and eight points off the top of the table, are Real Madrid and Sevilla. The pair will meet at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu coming Saturday (December 9).

Between first and fifth team in the league table, the difference is eight points and it makes it the tightest championship among the top European leagues and with only four sides qualifying for the Champions League, it will be tougher than ever to reach Europe's elite competition.

Many speak of the 'Big Six' of the Premier Leagues -- Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham -- but in Spain there is another version.

Barcelona, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla have been the 'Fab Five' in Spain in recent years while another big club, Villarreal, have fallen out of that privileged group and are now seven points behind the lowest ranked of that top five.

Barcelona face a test against Villarreal on Sunday (December 10) and then they play the El Clasico on December 23. Barca's defence could be vulnerable without the presence of ever dependable centre back Samuel Umtiti, who has been sidelined for up to eight weeks due to a hamstring injury.

Without the Frenchman the two games could be a tricky affair for the Blaugrana where they could lose points and end up narrowing the gap between the 'Big Five'.

Valencia may have lost to Getafe but that is likely to be only a blip while Atletico and Sevilla have shown that they have plenty of fight.

The quintet has dominated Spanish football over the last decade, and they've done well in Europe too.

Now they will compete for a league title which still has a long way to go.

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    Story first published: Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 10:08 [IST]
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