LaLiga's two red-hot zones
Luis Aragonés used to say that the Liga (now LaLiga) was decided in the final 10 matches. “Up to then all we’re offering is smoke and mirrors”. An alarming phrase that’s only partly true. We’re nine matches away from the end and everyone thinks Barça will be champions, with Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid qualifying for the Champions League. But there are other parts of the table where there's everything to play for, of utmost importance for the teams involved, proving the wise old man of our football right. Aragonés, who accumulated more games than anyone as player and coach and, having achieved that, took the Spanish team to the very pinnacle of the game, where Del Bosque kept them for another four years.
Nine games left, six teams fighting for three European spots, maybe four if Valencia win the Europa League. And a further six are fleeing the three bottom places, which lead to relegation. So even if we know the winners, a Barça side Messi has pulled along again and again, despite his sore groin (imagine what he could do if he were pain-free!), there’s a lot to be decided. It’s remarkable how Valencia are coming galloping up from behind after their poor start to the season, but are now aiming to prove the truth in the old Argentinean phrase “a horse who catches up wants to win” and are threatening the fourth spot, where Getafe are fighting with the dignity of the poor.
At the bottom Huesca still believe. They suffered as the new boys during the first third of the competition, taking their time to convince themselves they are good enough to play in the top flight. They are, as they showed in the Bernabéu. So are the teams just above them, from Rayo to Levante, including this Celta side of Iago Asapa, who has reappeared all guns blazing. There are many worlds, but they are in this one, as someone once said. There are many leagues, but this is the one they are in. We may know the winners, as well as second and third, there’s still a huge amount of excitement to be found in the remaining games. Let’s enjoy them.