LaLiga: ups, downs and the race for Europe
With just three matches remaining in the current 2016/17 LaLiga campaign, a detailled look at the race for the title, European places and the fight to avoid the drop to segunda.
With just three games remaining in the current LaLiga 2016/17 campaign for all sides (except Celta Vigo and Real Madrid who play their postponed game at Balaidos on May 17) it's the perfect time to take a snapshot at the teams pushing for the title, European places, battling to stay in the top flight or in the case of Las Palmas, decide which Caribbean island is the best holiday destination at the end of May.
The race for the LaLiga crown
Only two sides can win the 16/17 title...Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the traditional powerhouses of Spanish football. Despite the Catalan side topping the table ahead of "Jornada 36", it's the side from the capital who are in a stronger position to secure what would be their their first league triumph since 2012 with an all important game in hand against Celta at Balaidos and an arguably easier run in.
FC Barcelona fixtures
J36 (h) to Villarreal / J 37 (a) to Las Palmas / J38 (h) to Eibar
Real Madrid fixtures
J36 (a) to Granada / J 37 (h) to Sevilla / J21 (a) to Celta / J38 (a) to Malaga
Champions League football in 2017/18
Despite Villarreal, Athletic and even Real Sociedad still having a very remote mathematical chance of securing a Champions League berth for the 17/18 campaign, the tussle for the all important third and fourth places in LaLiga will come down to a head-to.head between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. Atleti current lead the Andalusian side by three points and will hope the advantage is enough to avoid fourth placing and the dreaded late August Champions League play-off game.
Atletico Madrid fixtures
J36 (h) to Eibar / J 37 (a) to Real Betis / J38 (h) to Athletic
J36 (h) to Real Sociedad / J 37 (a) to Real Madrid / J38 (h) to Osasuna
Fifth and sixth places in the table will ensure Europa League places next season with lower placed teams boosted by the incentive presented by this seasons' Copa del Rey final. If Alaves beat Barça, the side from the Basque Country claim the seventh automatic European place but should Luis Enrique's men avail at the Calderon, then the side in seventh will play Europa League football next season. At present Villarreal, Athletic and Real Sociedad are favoirites to secure these placings with Eibar not totally out of the ruling.
The drop to Liga 123
Previous campaigns have seen spectacular relegation battles with the three unfortunate sides not being resolved until the final day of the campaign, Sadly the current season has lacked this drama with Osasuna and Granada already destined to play in the second tier next season. With a 6 point advantage over Sporting, Leganes should have enough to survive in their first season in the top flight.
Last weekend Valencia based UD Levante secured a swift return to LaLiga with a 1-0 win over Oviedo enough to see "Els Granotas" back in the top tier. Girona look likely to make their debut in the top flight with the final promotion place set to be resolved mid-June after a play-off series which (on current standings) would be contested by Getafe, Cadiz, Huesca and Temerife.
Despite Celta's home reverse (0-1) to Manchester United last night in the Europa League semi-final first leg, the "Celetestes" could secure a fifth Champions League berth should they hoist the Europa League trophy in Solna (Sweden) on May 24th.
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