Atletico Madrid's ability to force the Liga title pace will be tested on Saturday when the leaders face Athletic Bilbao.
In what has become one of the most entertaining Spanish title races for some time, Diego Simeone's men now have their destiny in their own hands.
They ground out a 1-0 win over Granada in midweek while rivals Real stumbled at Sevilla - allowing Atletico to go top for just a second time this term.
Thanks to the form of traditional heavyweights Barca and Real - Atletico have done much of their good work this season as part of the chasing pack.
However, their title credentials will face a stiff test against fourth-placed Bilbao on Saturday, as they look to defend their position as pacesetters at San Mames in a game sandwiched between Barcelona's clash with Espanyol and Real's visit of Rayo Vallecano.
Such is the nature of this season's title race that a defeat for Atletico could see them slip to third by the end of the day, while victory can put them four points clear at the top, although midfielder Jose Sosa is calling on his team-mates not to get ahead of themselves.
"I'm happy and the effort we're putting in shows," he said.
"We need to think of only ourselves in every game, that’s what has got us to this place. There's not long to go in the season but it seems very long for us.
"We know it’ll be difficult. All the matches will be difficult. We can't err in any of them and the details will decide a lot."
While Atletico have won their last four league outings without conceding a goal, Saturday's hosts have also been in impressive form as they look to have all but nailed down the final UEFA Champions League spot.
Barring a major collapse late in the season, Ernesto Valverde's side will likely play in the qualification rounds for next season's Champions League, an achievement that has been helped by a run of just one defeat in their last 12 league games.
Aside from defeats to Real Sociedad and Espanyol, Bilbao have proven tough to beat in 2014 and striker Diego Costa will likely have a big say in whether Simeone and co return to the capital with three points.
Costa has five goals from his last four games in all competitions and was on hand to score the winner the last time the teams met - finding the net with four minutes to go in a 2-1 Atletico victory.
|4||A. Laporte||70' 86'|
|Antrenor: Ernesto Valverde|
for Susaeta 72'
for De Marcos 78'
for Mikel Rico 82'
|Barcelona insist Arda Turan will stay|
|Andre Gomes: Barcelona suit my identity better than Real Madrid|
|Niersbach to appeal FIFA ban|
|Barcelona agree Mascherano renewal|
|Fernandinho can play in 10 positions - Guardiola|
|Reading´s kit launch is out of this world|
|Ben Arfa: I do not want to be PSG´s star player|
|FA Cup to trial fourth substitute|
|We want Balotelli and he wants us, says Besiktas chief|
|Crowd welcomes Higuain as he arrives for Juventus medical|
|Guardiola warns Man City stars: If you´re not fit, danger is coming|
|Mkhitaryan prepares to prove himself at United|
|Cavani: No pressure replacing Ibrahimovic|
|Wenger vows to keep transfer plans ´secret´ after Lacazette snub|
|Brannagan open to Championship loan move|
|Wenger wants to sign Mertesacker replacement|
|Ancelotti: Bayern´s transfer business done|
|Brisbane Roar sign former Danish international Kristensen|
|Verratti, Luiz missing for PSG|
|Sounders part ways with foundation coach Schmid|
|Mane turned down Manchester United for Liverpool|
|Zidane on Pogba: Until August 31, anything can happen|
|Mkhitaryan driven by father´s death|
|Inter rejected Napoli offer for Icardi, says president|
|Clichy: City fighting fit after Guardiola pizza ban|
|Everton and Burnley win as Hull are held|
|Ajax held by PAOK after Cillessen howler|
|Conte left frustrated by ´crazy´ money in transfer market|
|Neymar makes Barcelona case to Gabriel Jesus|
|Rostov comeback twice for Champions League draw with Anderlecht.|
|Arsenal defender Mertesacker set for lengthy lay-off|
|Conte not selling ´fantastic´ Matic|
|Ibrahimovic keen on MLS and Beckham´s Miami project|
|Neymar: I play for Messi, he´s the man|
|Barcelona reveal details of Andre Gomes deal|
|Suarez bullish over Barcelona prospects|
|Ajax claim Napoli keen on Milik to replace Higuain|
|Totti labels Higuain´s Juventus move ´a disaster´|
|Juventus confirm Higuain deal|
|Pato to Villarreal ´in the final stage´|
|PSG sign Lo Celso|
|Muller: Beating Dortmund will be more fun this season|
|Juventus sign Higuain from Napoli for €90m|
|Pastore: I´m like God in Paris|
|Injured Lanzini out of Olympics|
|Allegri unperturbed by Higuain fee|
|Menezes replaces Bento at Cruzeiro|
|Sporting rejected major bids from Inter and Liverpool for Joao Mario, claims father|
|Pochettino pleased by Tottenham despite Juventus defeat|
|Eriksson: Allardyce the right man for England|
|Mourinho makes United train after stepping off plane from China|
|Hazard can still match Messi, says Pedro|
|Pjanic shows there is life at Juve, with or without Pogba|
|Juventus 2 Tottenham 1: Benatia bags win for Serie A champions|
|Dembele: I am not the Bundesliga´s next superstar|
|Lyon claim €35m Arsenal offer for Lacazette rejected|
|Donnarumma dreaming of Milan captaincy as he eyes long-term stay|
|Robson: Ibrahimovic can match Van Persie´s first year at United|
|Rooney should remain England captain - Eriksson|
|Emery wants new striker at PSG|
|Santos accept Juventus bid for Gabriel|
|Eriksson expects Sweden to try and tempt Ibrahimovic out of retirement|
|Spurs signing Janssen almost quit|
|Leicester stay best for Mahrez - Ranieri|
|Allardyce to take Mourinho cue on Rooney|
|Ings ready to outdo big-money signings|
|Henderson optimistic over Liverpool campaign|
|Allardyce hardened to the challenge of England post|
|Barcelona announce record revenues for 2015-16|
|Moyes enjoys Sunderland win as Palace beat Colchester|
|Stoke complete Allen signing|
|Roma coach Spalletti warns suitors off Manolas|
|Cresswell out for up to four months with knee injury|
|Burnley fan banned by club for racist abuse|
|Dad won´t let me play at the Olympics - Larsson Sr pulls rank|
|Kostic joins Hamburg on five-year deal|
|Tevez: I´d turn down Chelsea and Napoli to stay at Boca|
|Mayoral inspired by Benzema for Wolfsburg stint|
|Allardyce straight into competitive action with England|
|Liverpool, Sevilla fined for Europa League final incidents|
|Barcelona seal Guillemenot signing as part of new Servette deal|
|Niersbach handed one-year ban over World Cup corruption|
|Chelsea and Everton ´still interested´ as Koulibaly eyes Napoli exit|
|´Still working hard´ - Balotelli trains with Liverpool kids|
|Winter breaks, long-ball football and the World Cup: Allardyce in his own words|
|Inter warn Napoli Icardi is not for sale|
|Zanetti wants Simeone back at Inter|
|Stoke snap up Sobhi|
|PSG tougher under Emery - Lucas Moura|
|Totti not ready for retirement - Pallotta|
|Confident Allardyce reveals plan for England success|
|Pochettino to discard three Tottenham players|
|Allardyce: Rooney must wait for captaincy decision|
|Aubameyang: I will only leave Dortmund for Real Madrid|
|Allegri silences questions on Pogba|
|Bruce stands by decision to quit Hull City|
|Pochettino: Not the right time for Argentina job|
|Inter yet to approach De Boer with Mancini exit rumoured|
|Ancelotti trusts me more than Guardiola - Ribery|
|Wijnaldum rejected Everton for Klopp|
|Pre-season Manchester derby cancelled|
|Coutinho excited by ´fast´ Liverpool recruits|
|Cristiano Ronaldo and Conor McGregor step into the ring together|
|Mancini coy on reports linking Icardi to Napoli|
|Nolito reveals why he chose Man City over Barcelona|
|Inter 1 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Icardi absence in defeat fuels Napoli talk|