In spite of being 2-0 up in the first half — one coming from a brilliant Lionel Messi volley — Barcelona’s title hopes could be well and truly be over after suffering a 3-3 away draw at Levante on Tuesday giving Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid the chance to pull away at the top of La Liga.
The slip could prove decisive given Atletico will move four points clear of Barca with two games left if they can win away at Real Sociedad on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Real Madrid will edge two points ahead of Ronald Koeman’s side if they win away on Thursday at Granada.
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However, in what has been a frenetic and thrilling title race in recent weeks, there are certainly no guarantees still as all the four title contenders have kept fumbling and gaining any considerable advantage.
With the victory, Levante sit 13th in the points table, however, they had won only one of their previous eight matches before the Barcelona tie.
Barcelona led 2-0 from Messi’s acrobatic strike and a simple Pedri finish but two goals in two minutes before the hour — from Gonzalo Melero and Jose Luis Morales — suddenly had Levante level.
Ousmane Dembele pulled the visitors ahead again but again they squandered the advantage, Sergio Leon diverting in at the near post. And there was no way back this time.
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“We lowered our intensity from the start of the second half, lost our rhythm,” said Barca boss Ronald Koeman. “We weren’t defensively attentive and we let Levante back in. There is no other explanation.”
Questions around the Dutch manager’s future will grow louder the more the club’s title chances fade, his decisions this time to start Dembele at right wing-back and to bring Sergi Roberto into the back three are particularly vulnerable to scrutiny.