With Barcelona and Real Madrid fast disappearing into the distance at the summit of La Liga in Spain, as Atletico Madrid have now been overtaken for third place by Valencia, it seems to be destined for a two-horse race as the teams gallop towards the conclusion of their season. Barcelona maintained their slim one point advantage over their great rivals after the weekend's fixtures, after Lionel Messi's double helped them to a 2-0 success away at Eibar. The position at the top was very much 'as you were' after Real Madrid also claimed a 2-0 victory, this time at home to Levante, with Gareth Bale ending his goal drought with both goals for the Galacticos.

Reigning champions Atletico look like a spent force for the title this season, as they could only manage a goalless draw at Espanyol. The result leaves them now one point behind Valencia in the battle for the Champions League spots, with Sevilla waiting to pounce if they continue to slide. Diego Simeone's men also had to play the whole second period without their Brazilian centre-back Joao Miranda, after he was sent off, but still had chances to take the win.

Valencia by contrast seem to be on a bit of a charge at present, claiming third spot with a 2-0 success over Deportivo de La Coruna, thanks to second-half goals from Daniel Parejo and Paco Alcacer.

Real Madrid's triumph over Levante provided a welcome return to form for the Welshman Bale, who has received criticism recently for his performances.

While not exactly 'silencing' all of the £85 million player's doubters, he will have at least eased some of the pressure with his double strike, and his reaction during his celebrations indicated just what his feelings were, as he covered his ears after scoring. Both goals came in the first period: the first from a powerful volley after Cristiano Ronaldo had been denied by the keeper; the second, again with an assist from his Portuguese teammate, as he diverted in a shot that looked to be going wide, with the faintest of touches.

Barcelona had cause to thank Messi once again for their success over Eibar. His goals came either side of the break, from a penalty on the half-hour mark after Borja Ekiza was ruled to have deliberately handled in the area, and then a header after the interval from an Ivan Rakitic corner. He now moves on to an amazing 43 goals for the current season.

The stage is well and truly set for the top two sides to meet next Sunday in 'El Clasico' at the Nou Camp, which promises to be an entertaining contest and could well go a long way towards deciding the eventual title winners.