Barcelona’s Jordi Alba said he was back in the Spanish title race after beating Elche 3-0 on Wednesday to cut the gap to Atletico Madrid’s La Liga leaders by five points.
The Catalans have won eight of their last 10 league matches after making a terrible start to the campaign, which led coach Ronald Koeman to discount their title credentials back in December, to move within the sight of the leaders of Diego Simeone.
Atletico has a Barca game in hand, but since the beginning of this month, they have dipped in form, winning one of their last four league outings, while their confidence took an extra hit with the 1-0 defeat of Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“The title race is on,” Alba told reporters after rounding off the scoring against Elche following Lionel Messi’s two second-half goals.
For a few weeks, people have been counting us out and saying that we’re back in the mix for a few more weeks, but we know it’s up to us if we want to fight for the league. The other teams are going to keep slipping, just like we did.
Barca, who, thanks to the victory, climbed back above Seville to third and are two points behind second-placed Real Madrid, would have been even closer to Atletico if they hadn’t conceded a late equalizer to draw 1-1 on Sunday at home in Cadiz.
In the first half, they looked nervous against Elche and created little before their struggling opponents were overwhelmed after the interval.