Is there any intrigue left in La Liga?
The season 2016/17 ending of the Spain Championship is not the most intriguing. There are so many questions left before the last round. This allowed the managers of La Liga to organize the final round differently. Unlike the traditional format, when all matches are played strictly at the same time – the tour will have 3 game days. The hottest matches, of course, will be reserved for snacks – on May 21, Sunday evening. That day will reveal the champion of La Liga as well as the team that won’t play at the European cups.
Who will become the champion?
Virtually no one doubts that Madrid Real will be the new champion. Remember, Real did not win championship trophy from the season 2011/2012. In the course of current season the metropolitan team swapped position with Barcelona frequently. In “Football-today” opinion, the decisive misfire, apparently, will stay with Catalans. The key date of the championship was the 8th of April. On this day, Real missed the victory in Madrid derby with Atlético and almost opened the way to championship title for Barcelona. However, the team of Luis Enrique failed to properly tune in the match against Malaga. Match resulted in a 0 : 2 loss. Interestingly, against Málaga, Barcelona took only 1 point in two games this season while scoring not a single goal. Even heroic victory in the last El Clasico (3-2), where Messi scored the winning goal before final whistle, does not save Catalans.
Malaga — the last hope
Malaga remains the only hope for the “Blue-garnets”, because this team will battle Real Madrid at the last round within native walls. The trouble for Barcelona is that the “Los Boquerones” do not need anything from the tournament point of view. Barcelona desperately needs the victory of Malaga. In the 21st century, this happened only once – in December 2012. That day the Malaga beat the “Royal Club” (3-2), thanks to the double of Santa Cruz and another goal by Isco. Isco moved to Madrid next season. By the way, in the case Real Madrid is champion, Malaga F.C. will receive compensation of 1 million euro. Just for Isco – according to the transfer agreement.
What about Barcelona?
The only hope for Barcelona is that the team of Michel has unbeaten run of 5-matches (4 wins and 1 draw). If Malaga secured their gates at the last minute from Real Sociedad (2: 2), then they would have 5 wins in a row. However, Real Madrid is in good shape right now, winning 5 games in a row after losing the El Clasico.
Barcelona will have to play the last round in La Liga at home with Eibar. Now this is a team that has lost any interest in the championship — only 4 points in the last six rounds. So there is no doubt about the victory of the Catalans. The statistics only strengthen this thought. In modern history, Barcelona has won all 5 matches against Eibar with a total difference of goals 16 : 1.
Battle for Europa League
Immediately 3 teams – Villarreal, Athletic and Real Sociedad struggle for the 5th place in La Liga. The difference between them is only 1 point. Two of the three teams will book a place in the UEFA Europa League for the next season. Unfortunately, one of the contenders, who takes the 7th place, will stay undecided. The reason is that in a week Alaves will play in the final of “Copa del Rey” with Barcelona. Of course, winning chances are small, but let’s not forget that Alaves beat the Catalans at the “Camp Nou” (2 : 1) this season.
Two other teams from the Basque Country – Athletic and Real Sociedad try to nail through the championship to the Europa League. They lag behind Villarreal by 1 point. That makes yellow submarine the favorite. Interestingly, in the past two rounds none of these teams could win. Although all three rivals had good chances to get even with Sevilla and try to finish on the 4th line, but it did not work out.
All three contenders for the Europa League have difficult matches to play. Villarreal has a trip to Mestalia for a match with the local Valencia, which won two of its last tour. Athletic will play against Atlético in the farewell match of the Madrid team at Vicente Calderon. A Real Sociedad will go to Balaidos to play against Celta, which lost 6 past rounds and will probably try to go on vacation in high spirits. Who will prevail to get into the Europa League? We will find out on Sunday, on the 21st of May.
Survival of the fittest
“Football-today.com”: Alas, but the intrigue did not hold out in the struggle for survival. Osasuna and Granada were on the way to Segunda for a long time, but there was hope for Sporting. This team won last two matches in La Liga, but it did not help them. All that Sporting can do is to equal with Deportivo, but Galicians will be higher anyway in other indicators.