Tim Stannard reports on a title-winning weekend for Barca, and looks ahead to a huge final day for the bottom sides...
What a time-saving weekend. All the games being played simultaneously allowed plenty of free time to clean the fridge after weeks of repeatedly bumping that particular task to another day. Still tough to know where to put the jams, though. The downside is that what actually happened in the matches other than Barcelona's is a little sketchy for LLL. But before moving on to what may or may not have gone down in history as the penultimate match in la Primera, a big congratulations from the blog for the achievement of the weekend, a huge milestone in the history of football: Getafe grab a point to ensure another season of setting the top flight alight. Prepare for more non-stop thrills and spills from the Madrid club. Good job!
Luis Enrique promises more fun to come
All this cool calm collectiveness around Barcelona is unnerving. The team isn’t half as much fun when it's winning and being all with the high-fiving and hat-tossing.
Hopefully this will only last a couple of weeks until the campaigning for presidential elections starts, Joan Laporta returns and we potentially see the departure of a treble-winning coach.
It sounds like Luis Enrique might have a few things to get off his chest at the Camp Nou, though, after a campaign that must have been physically and mentally draining – but ultimately triumphant.
“I’ll talk about everything at the end of the season,” said Enrique, giving extra reasons to look forward to the Champions League final. The club’s post-Christmas composure was epitomised by getting the job done at the Vicente Calderón with a 1-0 win, proving that Barça are deserved champions on the grounds that they got more points than everyone else. Football, eh.
Atletico Madrid 0-1 Barcelona
Ronaldo remains happy despite title loss
Once Leo Messi’s winner went in after a tight 65 minutes in the Vicente Calderón, there was apparently just one person in Cornella for Real Madrid's clash against Espanyol who was unaware that Barcelona was about to be crowned La Liga champions. That person was Cristiano Ronaldo, who came under some tremendously entertaining criticism from Roberto Palomar in Marcafor celebrating each of his three goals under the assumption that it was a very good day in Mordor.
“No one is going to head down to Cibeles to celebrate a Pichichi award,” noted the lone voice of reason at the paper. “The fact that some of his attitudes border on the ridiculous appear unquestionable.”
Aside from the usual Ronaldo gripe and jibe from LLL, the 4-1 at Espanyol was an admirable result as Madrid could have easily folded like... er... some origami paper?... after the Champions League exit to Juventus, and then when the news of Messi’s goal came through. However, for one particular member of the Madrid side, the latter was probably the biggest incentive of all.
Espanyol 1-4 Real Madrid
Valencia await Super (or Sorry) Saturday
Oh dear. A win for Valencia could have left the club with a fine chance of sneaking into third spot, after the defeat for Atlético Madrid. But instead the men from Mestalla have a horrible week of waiting, knowing that Sevilla are breathing and panting behind them just one point away, after a bit of a scrabbled 2-1 win at home to Almería. Next Saturday could either go very well or really badly for Valencia, and hinges on getting an away win at the aforementioned Almería, a side very much stuck in a relegation battle.
LLL likes to think that it has a strong connection with Unai Emery – in dreams anyway – so it may try to persuade the Andalusians to down tools against Málaga next week and then win the Europa League so all of those who love the game in Spain can enjoy the spectacle of five teams in the Champions League – very much “Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”
Valencia 1-1 Celta Vigo
Athletic surge puts foot on Europa doorstep
Athletic may well have left themselves in a bit of a win-win situation with the Copa del Rey final. The current narrative in Spain reads that Barcelona will win the final against Athletic to leave the seventh spot open in La Liga for a Europa League spot. Incidentally, wouldn’t it be fun if Barça chose that route next season, just for the hell of it? However, Athletic are currently holding seventh with just one match to go, two points clear of Málaga, after a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down at Elche in the final 10 minutes. Equally as amazing, none of the goals were scored by Aritz Aduriz.
Elche 2-3 Athletic Club
Eibar’s point could keep side in la Primera
A point at Getafe might not sound like the sexiest of results but it was a huge one for Eibar, who might just get away with their survival bid that has largely consisted of blowing every chance the team has of staying up. Although Deportivo did what was required against Levante with a 2-0 win – a couple of cracking goals, to boot – the Galicians might as well write off the last match at the Camp Nou against a Barcelona side looking to celebrate La Liga in style. Depor are currently fourth-from-bottom and just two points above the wee northern minnows. Eibar, on the other hand, could not have picked a better match to play to see off the end of Primera days: home to Córdoba. Could be quite a party in the Basque Country.
Getafe 1-1 Eibar
Granada on brink of great escape
The appointment of José Ramón Sandoval for the final four matches of Granda’s season continues to be inspirational. The Andalusians were Segunda-bound before the former Rayo boss arrived, but have now won three from three to leave the team five from bottom and two points clear of the relegation zone. Although Granada would have to be very unlucky indeed to go down, there is still work to be done next Saturday, with Atlético visiting and still needing a point to hold third spot.
Real Sociedad 0-3 Granada