Warning: Villarreal threatens LaLiga third place

There is a fear in the corridors of Real Madrid. If they finish fourth they will have to play in the Champions League qualifying round which could impact on their USA tour.
Villarreal-Barcelona live online

In LaLiga. Real Madrid currently sit third in the league standings four points adrift of their neighbours Atlético, which is effectively five points as they have the head-to-head advantage. Villareal are just two points behind Madrid and are now threatening their position of remaining in the top three. Both sides have games against leaders Barça coming up - Villareal host the Blaugranas in Matchday 30 with Madrid visiting the Camp Nou in the following round of games. It has actually worked out that Villareal are going to be facing off first against several of the league opposition with Madrid trying to better their result in the subsequent days. The two meet each other in Matchday 34 (weeekend of 19/20 April) at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Champions League. The strong coefficient that Spanish clubs and the national side have build up over recent years means that the top three LaLiga sides at the end of the season go straight into the group stages of Europe's premier competition. The fourth placed team enters in the final qualifying round. If Madrid were to finish in that last slot then the dates associated with the prelimenary phase - impacted by the European Championships (10 June - 10 July) - is likely to mean that their preseason tour of the east coast of the United States (New York, Boston and Washington DC) would be affected. The early return to Europe will significantly and directly hit them in the pocket.

The crisis. During the Madrid derby the chants from the crowd of "Florentino resign!" (see video above) were once again heard. He has been identified as the main problem wiht a lack of any defined sporting structure due to all decisions falling at his door. Saturday was the third time that the bulk of the Bernabeu crowd called for his resignation. The first time was in El Clásico, when four goals down along with a "pañolada" (the white-handkerchief waving protest). It was seen again in the match against Rayo when they fell behind to Rayo 1-2 even though the team turned this around and scoring nine more without reply. The outlook for the rest of the season doesn't look great. On the field the club is clinging to the thought of Champions League glory (although it can feel a long time between the knockout round and the first leg of the quarter final - 27 days to be precise. The embarrassingly illegal use of Cheryshev in the Copa del Rey was also felt across the club. Institutionally, the club is also fighting on several fronts that could further complicate the situation.

FIFA sanctions: 

Brussels investigation. The European Commission are investigating the purchase by local Madrid government for land that cost 22 million euro and was worth 488.000 euro in 1998.

Spanish daily, El País have had access to a report which reveals that Real Madrid received 22, 7 million euro for the sale of land (Las Tablas, Madrid) which was worth 12,2 million euro. This is the latest revelation in an ongoing two year investigation looking into financial aid that the Spanish club received during former mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón’s mandate.

EU investigates Real Madrid for possible €10M aid in public funds

The new Bernabeu. Florentino's new Santiago Bernabeu project is making no progress as it awaits a judgment by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Madrid over land-use planning. The area to the north of Madrid identified as an option is also underinvestigation although the club are hoping for a change in the guidelines. With Manuela Carmena as Mayor of the city, this looks impossible.

The Benzema mess. A five year prison sentence hangs over the French striker for a crime of "association with wrongdoers and blackmail" in the Valbuena case. The judge has lifted the restraining order however Didier Deschamps still has a decision to make it the Madrid man is to appear in the summer finals.

Remaining LaLiga fixtures for Real Madrid

Remaining LaLiga fixtures for Villareal