With just one matchday left before the end of the season, here’s all you need to know about what could happen this weekend in the most exciting league in Europe, with the title race, the European and relegation spots still to be decided.
Football fans all over the world are in for a treat this week: there’s just one matchday left in what has been one of the most exciting, thrilling and dramatic seasons in recent European football history. Matchday 37, which saw 10 matches played simultaneously, was edge of your seat stuff, and with seven matches now scheduled for the 6pm CEST timeslot on Saturday 22nd to round off the season, we’re in for even more excitement. Everything is still to play for, so here comes a breakdown of what’s in play as we reach the climax of the final day of the season.
The title race
Who can still win it? Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid
Who’s in pole situation? Atlético de Madrid
What are the biggest fixtures this week? Real Valladolid vs Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid vs Villarreal CF (May 22nd)
The LaLiga Santander title race is without doubt the most exciting in Europe, with two teams still in with a shot of winning the championship with just one game remaining. Atletico de Madrid are on 83 points and Real Madrid 81 points. FC Barcelona, beaten by RC Celta on Sunday, are a few back on 76 and are now out of the running.
Atleti know that they will be champions if they beat Real Valladolid, it’s a simple as that. But they know it won’t be easy. They came from behind to secure a very late win over Osasuna this weekend; with just ten minutes to go they were losing 1-0 and Real Madrid had leapfrogged into first. Valladolid won’t be an easy rival either; the club are fighting their their LaLiga Santander survival and will be desperate for a positive result if they are have any chance of staying up.
Across town, second-placed Real Madrid will fight for the title until the very end. Their 1-0 win over Athletic Club this weekend kept their title hopes alive, and they’re now set to face in-form Villarreal CF on the final day. Villarreal have a lot at stake too; currently in seventh place, they need a win to stand a chance of qualifying for next season’s Europa League. So, what’s clear is that the four teams involved in the matches relevant to the title race all have a lot to play for.
In pursuit of the Europa League and Conference League
Who can still qualify? Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal CF
Who’s in pole position? Real Sociedad and Real Betis, for the Europa League places
What are the biggest fixtures this week? CA Osasuna vs Real Sociedad, RC Celta vs Real Betis, Real Madrid vs Villarreal CF (May 22nd)
The top four in LaLiga Santander is already set; as are fifth, sixth and seventh: Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal CF. These are the seven Spanish teams to play European competitions next season, but there’s just a matter of working out the order, who will play in the Europa League (5th and 6th) and the Conference League (7th).
As it stands, Real Sociedad and Real Betis will represent LaLiga in the Europa League next season, and the two sides face CA Osasuna and RC Celta, respectively, this weekend, two sides who have nothing on the line. Seventh-placed Villarreal would play in the inaugural season of the Conference League if things stay as they are, and travel to title challengers Real Madrid this weekend.
Nevertheless, there’s the possibility of a different scenario playing out. Villarreal play Manchester United in the Europa League final on Wednesday 26th. If they win, the Yellow Submarine would play in next season’s Champions League. If this were the case, and Villarreal finished in seventh, there’d be no Spanish representative in the Conference League. If Villarreal finished in fifth or sixth, however, just one LaLiga team would go into the Europa League and the seventh-placed team would head into the Conference League as originally planned.
The relegation battle
Who can still go down? Real Valladolid, SD Huesca and Elche CF. SD Eibarare already relegated.
Who are currently going down as things stand? Valladolid and Elche, in addition to Eibar.
What are the biggest fixtures this week? Real Valladolid vs Atlético Madrid, Elche vs Athletic, Huesca vs Valencia (May 22nd)
The relegation battle is just as fascinating as the title race; just five points separated 15th from 20th ahead of Matchday 37. Getafe and Alaves have only secured their top flight status with a week to go, while Eibar were became the first side to mathematically confirm relegation to LaLiga SmartBank.
There still three teams in the relegation battle – Real Valladolid, SD Huesca and Elche CF – and only one can stay up. As things stand, Huesca are safe on 33 points. They face Valencia CF at El Alcoraz this weekend.
Elche (33 points) and Valladolid (31 points) find themselves in the drop zone; they’ll need to win and hope for Huesca to slip up. Elche face Athletic Club, who have nothing on the line. But Valladolid face a very tough encounter with league leaders Atleti, who need a win to secure the title.
If the season ended with the three sides tied on points, Huesca would survive, thanks to their head-to-head record against the other two. Expect fireworks in the relegation fight on the final day.