Luis Suarez praised the character shown by Atletico Madrid to dig deep and clinch a dramatic 2-1 win over Osasuna that keeps them top of LaLiga.

Atleti's hopes of landing a first top-flight title in seven years seemed to be dealt a blow in Sunday's clash at the Wanda Metropolitano when Ante Budimir put mid-table Osasuna in front.

It was the Croatia international's seventh headed goal of the season – no player in LaLiga has more – but Diego Simeone's side turned the game around in the final eight minutes.

Substitute Renan Lodi fired in an equaliser and Suarez, who had earlier hit the post and missed a couple of other good chances, guided in a dramatic late winner.

The win ensures Simeone's side head to Real Valladolid on the final day of the season only needing to match Real Madrid's result against Villarreal to finish top.

Suarez's strike came from his seventh shot of the game and the Uruguay international admitted his side were made to suffer for their 25th win of the campaign.

"These are moments of happiness, we did not deserve to suffer as much as we suffered," he told Movistar. 

"We missed many chances – me in particular. But to win the league you have to suffer, as today showed. I knew we would suffer here, but not that much.

"The effort and sacrifice of the team was great, with many people working so that the club can achieve its objectives. Now we have a chance to rest and prepare for the next game."

Had Suarez not found a way through late on – ending a five-game scoreless run in the process – Atleti would have entered the final matchday second to Madrid in the table.

The ex-Barcelona striker has now earned 19 points for Atletico with his 20 goals – only Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri has helped his team to more points in LaLiga this term.

"Luis has not scored for a bit, but he's always been involved," Simeone said at his post-match news conference. "He gives us leadership – who better than him to win the game.

"During the drinks break near the end, I told the players we had to look for the draw. The goal soon arrived and then Suarez showed why he is an important player."

Atletico have spent 29 matchdays at the top of LaLiga, despite some inconsistent results since the end of January, and are now one game from winning the title.

"We will prepare for the last game with the same enthusiasm to when I arrived at this club in 2011," Simeone said. "The team will be fierce. I hope the fans will be proud of us.

"We chose this profession trying to do the best we can to reach this moment. You have to prepare in the best way. I don't understand any other way."

Luis Suarez scored an 88th-minute winner to earn Atletico Madrid a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Osasuna that keeps their LaLiga title hopes in their own hands heading into the final matchday.

Their dreams of a first title since the 2013-14 season appeared to have suffered a damaging blow 15 minutes from full-time when Ante Budimir struck completely against the run of play in Sunday's clash at Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone's side had earlier wasted a string of opportunities, twice hit the post and had strikes from Stefan Savic and Yannick Carrasco ruled out, though they dug deep to turn the game around in the final eight minutes.

Substitute Renan Lodi equalised and Suarez atoned for some earlier misses by firing in a winner for Atleti, the result moving them two points above Real Madrid – the only side that can now catch them – with one game left in the season.

Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are entering the "Luis Suarez zone" as they edge closer to securing a first LaLiga title since the 2013-14 season.

Atleti hold a two-point advantage over city rivals and reigning champions Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, and face Osasuna in their penultimate game of the season at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.

Should they claim three points against Jagoba Arrasate's side and Los Blancos fail to beat Athletic Bilbao, in a game which kicks off at the same time, Atletico will be crowned champions with a game remaining.

Leading the charge up front will be Uruguay international Suarez, who has scored 19 goals in his first season at the club since joining from Barcelona.

Suarez, 34, won four LaLiga titles during his time at Barca and Simeone is expecting him to use all that experience to ensure Atleti do not slip up in their final two games.

"As for Luis, we have entered the Suarez zone," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is an ideal moment for a footballer like him to find and solve game situations that the team will need. He is used to games like this and has the experience to do it."

Atleti are red-hot favourites to beat Osasuna, who have lost eight of their last 10 away games against Los Rojiblancos.

Despite this, Simeone is expecting a tough game and wants maximum focus from his side, who are aiming to score two or more goals in four consecutive home league games for the first time since April 2016.

"In football you cannot choose a rival," Simeone added. "There are no small enemies. Football is day to day and you have to play according to the game that you play.

"We continue in the same way as always. We are dealing with Osasuna, a team that has competed very well historically and will do so tomorrow as well. 

"Osasuna is changing. Lately he [Arrasate] uses 4-3-3 more, although he may return to 4-4-2 that has been in the essence of his game.

"He works much more across the game, with fast people on the outside, with people from the second row to accompany his striker and a very strong collective work.

"We seek to play a good game, take it to where we can hurt Osasuna and know that the rival will come to play with enthusiasm."

Raphael Varane only has a minor injury, according to Zinedine Zidane, who is hoping the centre-back will be fit to face Chelsea in midweek.

Varane was taken off at half-time against Osasuna on Saturday, with Madrid going on to win 2-0 thanks to late goals from Eder Militao and Casemiro.

The victory took Madrid back to within two points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Elche earlier on.

With Los Blancos facing fourth-placed Sevilla next week, and Barca hosting Atleti, the title race is firmly in the balance heading into the final few games of the campaign.

However, Varane's substitution was a cause for concern. Prior to facing Sevilla, Madrid will visit Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea on Wednesday, with their Champions League semi-final tie level at 1-1 after a tightly contested first leg.

Zidane is hopeful Varane's issue will not keep him out for long.

"I do not know, we have to wait," he told reporters. "He has told me that it is a small thing. I hope that is the case."

Madrid attempted 13 shots in the opening 45 minutes against Osasuna, more than they have managed in any other first half of a game this season in all competitions, though it took them until the 76th minute to find an opening – Isco's corner headed in by Militao for the centre-back's first LaLiga goal.

Casemiro's inadvertent finish subsequently put Madrid 2-0 up with 10 minutes remaining, and Zidane was pleased with the patience his team showed to make it 11 successive home wins against Osasuna in LaLiga – having last dropped points in this fixture when held 1-1 in December 2005.

"Happy with today's game, the three points. I am happy for the effort my players have made," Zidane added.

"In the first half we had four or five chances and we didn't score, it's a bit frustrating for them. At half-time I said [a goal] was going to arrive. With patience and with play.

"I was very happy for them, they are suffering there and when they score, you know it is a liberation."

Eder Militao and Casemiro proved the unlikely heroes as Real Madrid responded to Atletico Madrid's earlier victory by earning a 2-0 win over Osasuna.

A thrilling LaLiga title race looked to be turning in Atleti's favour after a spirited Osasuna display held Madrid at bay for much of Saturday's late game, but Zinedine Zidane's team struck in the 76th minute.

Militao, who had previously been denied by Sergio Herrera, headed home from Isco's delivery to snatch a vital win and pull Los Blancos within two points of leaders Atleti, keeping up the pressure on Barcelona and Sevilla in the meantime.

It was a cruel blow for Osasuna, who had looked in good position to end a 16-year losing streak at Madrid, and Casemiro's fortuitous finish sealed the result.

Making his first start since January, Eden Hazard had an early sighter, curling over the corner of the goal after a driving run from the left.

Hazard went closer still in the 26th minute, drawing a brilliant save from Herrera with a close-range volley.

Herrera pulled off another superb stop from the resulting corner, flicking Militao's goal-bound header over, with Vinicius Junior slamming into the side netting soon after.

Osasuna thought they had pinched the lead on the stroke of half-time, only for Chimy Avila's fine header to be disallowed for offside.

Militao flashed an acrobatic attempt over the bar after the restart, with substitute Rodrygo Goes arrowing a crisp effort just wide in the 67th minute.

Coach Zidane soon turned to Isco, and the playmaker immediately repaid the faith, clipping in a corner from which Militao sent a towering header into the right corner.

The points were sealed four minutes later – Benzema slipping a neat pass through for Casemiro, whose heavy first touch wrong-footed Herrera and rounded off a hard-earned win.

Zinedine Zidane is frustrated by Real Madrid's injury problems and admitted it is not easy rotating his side between matches.

Defender Dani Carvajal suffered another injury setback this week, just three games into his comeback, and is now expected to miss the rest of the season.

Carvajal joins Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy and Federico Valverde on the sidelines, but skipper Sergio Ramos is back in training and could feature against Osasuna on Saturday.

Madrid face another tight turnaround in fixtures, with the LaLiga clash against Osasuna followed four days later by a Champions League semi-final second leg with Chelsea.

Zidane has suggested he will not rest any key players this weekend, though, as draw specialists Madrid seek just a second win in six matches in all competitions.

"As a coach, of course I am very frustrated with the relapses," Zidane said at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"I want my players healthy. I never want them injured, not even the smallest issue. When one relapses two or three times, I am not happy. But we have to always look forward.

"I can't explain the number of setbacks. All teams have had problems. With the issues we've had, getting to this point and still being in contention means a lot.

"I'm very happy with the players' character and what we have got out of them. We all believe in what we do, each one of us, and that is fundamental.

"It's not easy to manage a squad like Madrid's. Everyone has an opinion but inside it's not easy. It's my job and I do my best. It's a rare year and we will continue to fight.

"Not everyone will be able to play tomorrow, but we cannot think about Wednesday before tomorrow. Whatever happens, in life, you have to think about doing it well tomorrow. 

"This is what we are going to do - go out with the best possible team to win the three points. If you think differently, you don't reach all of your targets."

Madrid's issues could be compounded for their trip to Chelsea next week as Marcelo has been called up to monitor a polling station during local elections a day before the match, which is poised at 1-1.

However, Zidane has indicated that the experienced defender will still be part of Los Blancos' travelling party next week.

"It is what it is," Zidane said. "He is going to fulfil his obligations, but nothing changes. He will still be with us on Wednesday."

Madrid have drawn two of their last three league games, but their hopes of retaining the LaLiga title were boosted on Thursday with Barcelona's shock home loss to Granada.

Zidane's side are level on points with Barca and are only two behind leaders Atletico Madrid, with fourth-placed Sevilla just a point further back.

Los Blancos have won their last 10 games against Osasuna in LaLiga, scoring an average of 3.3 goals per game, but Zidane is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

"The league is always complicated," he said. "That will be the case right until the end. We cannot focus only on the defeats of our rivals - we have to look at ourselves.

"We want to win the league and will try until the end, but we can only think about tomorrow.

"We are in the mix, fighting. We are focused on the day-to-day and are preparing for the match. We are near the end of the season and we are concentrating on this.

"There are three points to play for and we are going to do everything to win them."

Ronald Koeman believes the combination between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba for Barcelona is almost unstoppable.

Messi set up Alba's opener and Ilaix Moriba's sealer as Barca recorded a 2-0 LaLiga win at Osasuna on Saturday.

Of Alba's past 16 goals for Barca in all competitions, Messi has assisted eight.

Koeman, whose side closed to within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid, said the duo's connection was almost impossible to stop.

"You can see in every game our opponents are trying to cover that, trying to block Messi's pass to play the ball in behind to Jordi Alba," the Barcelona coach told a news conference.

"So, at many points of a game that pass between them isn't possible. But I don't think you can stop these two players and that connection that's there between Messi and Jordi Alba because it's something brilliant.

"There are always moments in a game where that pass does appear and those two are calm enough on the ball to pick it out and they can pick it out very easily and they really do it at the right time.

"You can't really stop it because it's just natural instinct."

Atletico have played two fewer games than Barca, with Diego Simeone's side facing Real Madrid in a derby clash on Sunday.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman says he will take an interest in Sunday's Madrid derby but is unfazed by the result as the LaLiga title race heats up.

The Catalans defeated Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday to extend their unbeaten LaLiga run to 16 matches and close to within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand.

One of those is Sunday's Madrid derby where third-placed Real Madrid will also look to close within two points of Atletico with victory.

Atletico have wavered in recent matches, dropping points in three of their past five, opening the door for Barca and Madrid, although Koeman said he would be unfazed by the outcome.

"The derby in Madrid? The most important thing is our result," Koeman said.

"But of course we're interested in it. Any result would be good."

Jordi Alba and Guinea-born 18-year-old midfielder Ilaix Moriba netted the goals in Saturday's win at Osasuna.

The teenager was making just his third appearance in LaLiga, having come through Barcelona's famed academy.

"Ilaix is young, but is physically very strong," Koeman said. "He's gaining ground to be with the first team more often."

He added: "Ilaix scored a goal in a difficult match, with 0-2 we killed off the game. Every time Moriba enters the pitch he brings something extra.

"Players like Pedri, Ilaix, Riqui [Puig], [Ronald] Araujo and [Oscar] Mingueza are the future of the club.

"We're proud to be able to bring in young homegrown players. But we are not doing it because the fans want it, we're doing it because they deserve it."

French defender Samuel Umtiti was replaced at half-time by attacker Ousmane Dembele, a switch Koeman clarified.

"The substitution of Umtiti was tactical. We wanted to be in better control," he said.

"It's true he had a card but he wasn't applying pressure well. We improved in the second half."

Lionel Messi provided two assists as goals from Jordi Alba and Ilaix Moriba saw off Osasuna 2-0 to propel Barcelona to within two points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.

With Atleti going head-to-head with Real Madrid on Sunday, Barca took the chance to apply pressure to their title rivals by claiming an eighth successive away win in LaLiga.

Messi played an integral role, teeing up Alba to break the deadlock with a sublime pass – eight of the full-back's last 16 club goals have been assisted by Barca's number 10.

His second assist was more subtle, with a gentle lay off setting the stage for Ilaix to thump in his maiden Barca goal, and Koeman can now tune into the Madrid derby with his team in a strong position.

 

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman said the club must be realistic about their title chances in LaLiga.

Koeman's Barca are second and five points adrift of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who have a match in hand, through 25 rounds ahead of Saturday's trip to Osasuna.

Barca – into next month's Copa del Rey final as they look to overturn a 4-1 deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 – have struggled to convince this season.

While Koeman played down talk of the title, the Dutchman knows Barca have a chance to end the season on a high in the Copa final against Athletic Bilbao on April 17.

"As the coach and the players we have to be more realistic," Koeman told reporters. "We cannot change our minds and opinions about the team's chances to win something all the time.

"We know we have the [Copa del Rey] final and have a chance to win a big trophy in Spain. And depending on the results of the team we can fight for the title.

"We're several points behind Atletico Madrid and we can't lose any more points because then our objective will change and that's difficult.

"Hopefully at the end of the season we can say that, despite some problems, we have done well and that we have won a title. And that would be great."

Barcelona are undefeated in their last 15 games in LaLiga (W12 D3) – the second best current run of any team in the top five European leagues, only behind Premier League leaders Manchester City (19).

Lionel Messi has scored 19 goals in 23 LaLiga appearances this season and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner could reach 20 goals in a 13th consecutive campaign in the competition – a record.

Barca captain Messi has scored 23 goals in 19 LaLiga appearances against Osasuna, netting three braces in his last five games against them at El Sadar in the league.

Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

 

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

 

ATLETICO WIN AT A CANTER

Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

Those two are, at least, very likely to end up in a Champions League place. They are expected to be joined there by Sevilla, who have a 47.8 per cent chance of finishing fourth on 65 points, just three above Villarreal and six clear of Real Sociedad. The remaining European spot is predicted to be a close battle between Granada, Getafe and Real Betis, with Diego Martinez's men odds on to snatch it.

Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

 

WOE FOR HUESCA

At the other end of a relatively tight table, in which just 11 points will separate seventh from 16th, it looks like Huesca are in for a tough run-in. They are given a 59.7 per cent chance of finishing bottom of the pile and just a 5.1 per cent shot at avoiding relegation, having won only once so far this term.

Osasuna are predicted to end up just four points above them, with the bottom three likely to be completed by Deportivo Alaves, although Elche will also be right in the mix. In fact, with those two tipped to finish level on 39 points, survival could come down to their head-to-head record, making their showdown on May 11 potentially decisive. Elche have the advantage there, having won the reverse game 2-0 away from home.

Real Valladolid are expected to have just enough to stay out of trouble, although they have scant room for manoeuvre, with our predictor giving them an equal 15.1 per cent chance of finishing 17th and 18th.

Eibar and Cadiz are looking likely to stay safe; indeed, Jose Luis Mendilibar's men, along with Celta Vigo and Athletic, are given a 0.1 per cent chance of gatecrashing the top four. They might well have boosted those odds this week were it not for that pesky Suarez.

Zinedine Zidane struggled to hide his frustration at the fact Real Madrid's LaLiga contest at Osasuna was not postponed despite the impact of Storm Filomena.

Los Blancos played out a forgettable goalless draw at El Sadar, with Madrid failing to muster an effort on target in the first half.

The match was played amid difficult conditions with snow continuing to fall and a significant dusting on the pitch.

Madrid's preparations for the fixture were hardly ideal either with the team trapped on a plane for two hours on Friday as ice on the runway delayed their flight out of the capital.

Head coach Zidane, who is unsure when the team can travel back to Madrid with the city having been heavily impacted by the storm, was left flabbergasted that the match went ahead.

"We did what we could do on the field but it was not a football match," he said.

"The conditions were very difficult. Everything that has happened these two days has been very complicated. 

"We do not know when we can return and the truth is that we will see how it is fixed.

"Clearly the match against Osasuna should have been postponed. Clearly.

"The conditions to play football were not met, which in the end is what everyone wants. Both us and the rival, as well as the people."

Zidane was reluctant to say if he felt his team had been harmed by LaLiga's decision, adding: "I'm not going to get into these things. 

"We have done what they have told us, we have played and that's it. We have to think about recovering even if we don't know if we are going to go to Madrid tomorrow, if we are going to return on Monday. And on Wednesday we have another game."

Real Madrid failed to take full advantage of Atletico Madrid's cancelled fixture with Athletic Bilbao as they played out a toothless 0-0 draw at lowly Osasuna.

LaLiga leaders Atleti saw their game called off as the snow from Storm Filomena battered the capital, which also delayed Madrid's flight for the clash at El Sadar.

Whether it was the disruption to the travel or the freezing conditions, Madrid put in a turgid display and failed to muster a single shot on target in 45 forgettable first-half minutes.

There was little improvement after the break - despite two disallowed goals - and Madrid could only move to within a point of Atleti, who now have three games in hand.

The falling snow was the biggest talking point of a dire opening period in which Madrid saw 72.3 per cent of the ball without mustering any effort of real meaning.

Indeed, the only action of note was when Thibaut Courtois smartly parried Oier's thumping header from Ruben Garcia's corner.

It took until the 49th minute for Madrid to test home keeper Sergio Herrera, who batted away Marco Asensio's bending effort with relative ease.

Karim Benzema did bundle home after Herrera brilliantly kept out his initial point-blank header, only for the offside flag to swiftly curtail the celebrations.

There was a sense of deja vu in the closing stages when Mariano Diaz squirmed home from Benzema's take down but both men were offside when the initial pass was played, as a poor game petered out into a draw.


What does it mean? Madrid feel the freeze

Admittedly, it is pretty rare to see such Baltic-looking conditions in Spain but that alone does not account for Madrid's insipid display. Zinedine Zidane's side had a great opportunity to put pressure on Atleti against a team struggling in the relegation zone but it was one they missed.

Madrid forwards go cold

Madrid's front three of Asensio, Benzema and Eden Hazard just did not click into gear. Asensio offered one shot on target and a key pass, but both he and Hazard - who provided neither a shot on target nor a key pass - were hauled off in the second half. Benzema created a sole chance in the final minute of the match.

Herrera does the job

He had little to do in truth but Herrera was a constant source of calm whenever Madrid posed a threat with a tricky cross into the area and marshalled a stern Osasuna defence throughout.

What's next?

Madrid's attentions now turn to Athletic Bilbao and the semi-finals of the Supercopa de Espana on Thursday, while Osasuna visit Granada on Tuesday.

Zinedine Zidane hopes Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez's contracts with Real Madrid are "sorted out".

Ramos, 34, and Vazquez, 29, are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

Reports suggest Ramos has turned down a one-year deal from Madrid, the club he arrived at in 2005.

Asked about Ramos and Vazquez possibly not signing contracts, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't want it but, in football, you never know.

"What I want and what we want you already know. You will ask me again at another press conference after the match and I will tell you the same thing. What I hope is that this will be sorted out, nothing more."

Madrid visit Osasuna in LaLiga on Saturday as they look to keep the pressure on Atletico, who are two points clear and have played two fewer games.

Eden Hazard's future is again a talking point at Madrid and the playmaker last started a league game in November.

But Zidane is unwilling to take risks with the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries since arriving at the club.

"He is with us. He is training regularly, then after that I don't know," he said.

"We will see if he is for 90 minutes or not and we will see how the pitch is. And for the next matches we will see the same, little by little."

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