Barcelona have an impressive advantage over Atletico Madrid in La Liga, an advantage which allows them to think La Liga is in their pocket. And they're right. They just have to strike this weekend. Sunday's game against Atletico Madrid is almost a league 'final' because a draw or a win for the Catalans would effectively wrap up top spot and allow Ernesto Valverde's side to think about other competitions. And in managing the squad. A win which would have a lot of consequences.
Beating Atletico is key so that Ousmane Dembele, for example, can have more minutes this season, gain the confidence he's been lacking and grow as a player who can be decisive in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.
Beating Atletico would allow other players, like Gerard Pique, to completely recover from the injuries they have (the knee, in Pique's case) and it would allow Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to manage their minutes thinking about the big games in the Champions League. It would also allow them to think about the World Cup.
Winning -- or even drawing -- this Sunday would not set the fat lady singing just yet because Atletico are in form, because they're conceding few goals and because they seem to have re-found the spirit which has defined them under Diego Simeone. However, this Barça is no the Barça for Tata Martino, who missed chance after chance. They have not lost a league game and they now how to compete, as they demonstrated at Stamford Bridge. In other circumstances, they would have lost. And people would have been crying.