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The prestige of LaLiga grows and grows


Villarreal's thoughtful gesture to welcome the travelling Liverpool fans with a giant banner paying tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster was magnificent. For the people of Liverpool as a whole, and the families of the victims in particular, the tragedy was made even worse with the subsequent humiliation they were made to endure. The British authorities and the media shamefully colluded to foist the blame for what happened that day upon the victims themselves. This week's sentence went some way to repairing the damage caused. And Villarreal's gesture was a case of footballing people embracing footballing people. Magnificent. Courtesy and courage are not mutually exclusive, as evidenced by Villarreal going on to win the game.

That 1-0 win at El Madrigal was accompanied on the night by Sevilla's 2-2 result in Lviv. As is the case for Madrid and Atlético in the Champions League, neither side's passage to the final is guaranteed, but it's their opponents who have most of the work to do. A 1-0 home win in the first leg gives you a 61% chance of progressing. A scoreless draw away from home in the first leg gives you a 65% chance; while, in Sevilla's case, a 2-2 increases that probability to 79%. So it's not ridiculous to dream of two all-Spanish finals, in Basel and Milan. While we wait to find out if the ideal scenario comes to pass or not, we can be proud that four of our teams are where they are. It’s prestigious for LaLiga.

The increased prestige adds even more weight to the LaLiga title race. Once again we have three games to look forward to this evening, one after the other to keep things all the more exciting. Madrid, in the midst of a behind-the-scenes medical storm, have no choice but to risk Gareth Bale at Anoeta, as the league title is still very much one of the team’s targets. Atlético, barely recovered from the monumental effort of Wednesday night, which they will need to replicate next week, face a Rayo side that put Zidane's men through the wringer recently. Barça will be glued to their television screens and radio dials this evening before taking to the pitch to duke it out Betis. Should the two Madrid teams will, los culés will have the fear of God to deal with. All eyes will be on them. Another great day of football.