Real Madrid could win La Liga on Monday after a routine 2-0 win over Alaves on Friday put them within touching distance of the title.
With suspended skipper Sergio Ramos sitting in the stands, Karim Benzema took over the armband and then penalty duties, firing in from the spot before teeing up Marco Asensio to add a second at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.
After restoring their four-point advantage at the top of the table, the pressure is back on Barcelona.
If Barca fail to win away at Real Valladolid on Saturday, Madrid will clinch the title with two games to spare by beating Granada on Monday at Los Carmenes.
Yet even if Madrid have to wait, it seems inevitable they will hoist the trophy given they also boast the superior head-to-head record against Barcelona with three games left.
Madrid can afford to draw two of those, even if Barcelona manage three victories out of three.
“We still don’t know what is going to happen,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. “La Liga is very hard and we have three finals still to go.”
“We have to stay focused,” added Raphael Varane.
After sacking their coach Asier Garitano last week following five consecutive defeats Alaves never looked likely to cause an upset.
This loss in Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz’s first game in charge leaves them hovering above the relegation zone, only three points ahead of Real Mallorca, who have hope after their win over Levante on Thursday.