MADRID – It is the last three matchdays of the La Liga 2018-2019 season and the title has already been claimed by Barcelona. Yet, there are still some heated competitions; the first to secure a European berth and the other to avoid relegation to the lower tier.
Getafe, Sevilla and Valencia are the three teams who are trying to get into fourth place, as the top four teams in La Liga qualify for the UEFA Champions League; meanwhile, the fifth and sixth-placed teams only qualify for the second tier international Europa League next season. At the same time, there are seven sides fighting to remain in the top-flight of the domestic league.
Getafe’s dream vs. the “obligation” of Sevilla and Valencia
The three candidates for the fourth spot have been defeated in each of their most recent games; all of this means that it is only Getafe that has its future in its own hands as the capital side is the only team of the three who can take the fourth place as long as the team wins out.
Fourth-placed Getafe is tied with Sevilla at 55 points, while Valencia trails with three points in the sixth spot.
Next up in matchday 36, the Madrid-based side Getafe is set to host Girona a side who after six consecutive defeats managed to edge a 1-0 victory over Sevilla in the La Liga matchday 35.
Getafe’s head coach Jose Bordalas will not be able to oversee the match as he was handed a two-match suspension after Getafe’s recent 2-1 upset at the hands of Real Sociedad.
This 2-1 defeat at Anoeta stadium forces Getafe to claim a victory against Girona, a rival who wants to escape from the relegation zone. One important note, the capital side never won a match against Girona in La Liga play.
Getafe’s only win over Girona was in the Copa del Rey, five years ago.
The match also will see an interesting duel between two successful attacking duos, Getafe’s Jorge Molina-Juan Mata vs Jonathan Stuani-Portu of Girona.
Getafe’s win or tie against Girona will guarantee, at least, a Europa League berth.
If the capital side loses against Girona, and Alaves is also defeated at the hands of Real Sociedad, Getafe still will secure a Europa League spot.
If to be fighting for the CL is a brilliant but also unexpected reward for Getafe, securing that berth for Sevilla and Valencia is almost an obligation.
Sevilla, under coach Joaquin Caparros, will host Leganes who never beat the Andalusian side at its home-pitch, Ramos Sanchez Pizjuan.
However, Sevilla lost its key player for the remainder of the season, Ever Banega, who was handed a four-match ban after the Argentinian playmaker was shown a straight red card against Girona.
Caparros then is to probably count on Maxime Gonalons to fit in Banega’s place. The Frenchman has just recovered from a muscle injury that sidelined him for four matchdays.
Sevilla and Portugal defender Daniel Carriço will miss Leganes’ clash as well, while the Andalusian squad’s forwards Wissam Ben Yedder, Munir El Haddadi and Pablo Sarabia all need to shine again against Leganes who has almost secured playing in La Liga next season.
Valencia, who is pending the Europa League semis tie vs Arsenal, is to play last-placed Huesca, a team that has the minimum chance of staying in La Liga.
Afterward, Valencia is to play its last domestic home match against Alaves at Mestalla stadium.
Coach Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side has been experiencing a good streak in La Liga, but Valencia’s upcoming semifinal in the Europa League is set to be a threat for the team’s hopes.
Basque trio races for Europa League:
Most probably, the standings seventh spot is to qualify for the Europa League next season, and there are three clubs, based in Basque Country, battling to secure it; mainly both of Athletic Bilbao and Alaves as well as Real Sociedad.
Coach Abelardo Fernandez’s Alaves team, which was within the zone of danger all during this season, is set to host Real Sociedad, while Bilbao is to go on the road to play against third-to-last Valladolid.
Alaves (47 points) is living its worst moment of the season; not getting a single win in the recent seven games, a skid that has resulted in the team falling into the eighth spot, three points shy behind Bilbao.
Therefore, the team is in need to claim a victory in this Basque derby scheduled for Saturday, while it is the same objective of Sociedad, who did not win any away encounter since Jan 6, when the team defeated Real Madrid 2-0 at Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Meanwhile, Valladolid’s pressing need will complicate things more for Bilbao who has the best chance, depending on its own results, to secure the seventh spot, and even to probably finish in a better ranking, trailing with just two points behind Valencia.
The agonizing fight to avoid relegation:
Last-placed Huesca and second-to-last Rayo Vallecano still refuse to give up their hopes of avoiding relegation to the lower tier of Spanish soccer, but mathematics give the two sides a very slight chance, and actually, both could be officially relegated this weekend.
Both sides are seven and six points out of staying in La Liga, respectively.
Huesca’s defender Jorge Pulido and midfielder Yangel Herrera will miss their team’s upcoming home clash against Valencia, while Rayo will pay a visit to Levante who is also fighting to avoid relegation.
Levante holds the 16th spot, and ties at 37 points with 15th-placed Celta Vigo and 17th-placed Girona, while Valladolid is two points behind this trio, in the 18th place.
Coach Sergio Gonzalez’s Valladolid will have to let go of its recent controversial 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano stadium to be able to show its best version at home against Bilbao.
Valladolid also needs to figure out how to find its opponent’s net, as it is the team that has scored the least amount of goals in La Liga – 29 goals- thus far.
For its part, Celta could, theoretically, count on its grand star and Spain striker, Iago Aspas, when the Galician side hosts champion Barcelona at Balaidos stadium.
The 31-year-old Aspas sustained a sprain in his right shoulder during his side’s scoreless draw against Leganes last round, however, he probably will be fit for Barcelona clash, as well as Celta’s captain Hugo Mallo.
The Galician side thinks that Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will give a rest to the Catalan squad’s usual starting line-up ahead of the away second-leg of CL semis tie vs Liverpool at Anfield so Celta may earn the three points it needs to secure its place in the next season of La Liga.
Meanwhile, Girona wants to make the most of its recent victory over Sevilla to start a good winning streak.
The 14th-placed Villarreal managed to get into a privileged situation, after the side’s recent three victories and a draw.
Coach Javi Calleja’s team will try to secure its salvation in its away clash against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, but Villarreal will play this match without its suspended forward Karl Toko Ekambi, as well as injured players; midfielder Santi Caseres and forward Carlos Bacca.