Barcelona aim to avoid Catalan derby doom as Atletico Madrid march on relegated Levante
So close, yet so far. The chance has been lost for La Liga supporters to inflate with such smugness that they could be ‘2010-era Barcelona fans’ over all four teams in the two European finals being Spanish.
But Villarreal let the side down in a loss to Liverpool. Bad Villarreal. At least Sevilla did not fail to set up what is admittedly a more intriguing final between two touchline live wires in Unai Emery and Jurgen Klopp.
But onto more pressing matters and La Primera. The story so far is that the title is still open to Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid with just two games to go. Down at the bottom, there are seven sides that could mathematically go down but five in a more realistic measure.
Here’s all you need to know about the 10 games that are all taking place at the same time. Which means LLL will have even less idea than usual on what is going on, after the weekend.
Will cursed history repeat itself for Barca in Catalan derby?
Before launching into a thoughtful analysis of the Catalan derby that will either see Barcelona take a step nearer to or further from the league title, some housekeeping with the ‘alleged tax naughty person of the month at the Camp Nou’ section.
Joining Javier Mascherano, Neymar and Leo Messi is Adriano - a footballer many forget is still there - who is being probed by Spanish prosecutors for a failure to pay $742,900 owed for image rights between 2011 and 2012.
Now that this is done with, over to the football. And the Catalan derby. Which is not nearly as competitive as the Madrid derby. That’s because Barcelona haven’t lost to Espanyol since 2007, in the same season as another cursed result, which saw a last gasp winner from Raul Tamudo on the penultimate day of the season costing Barca the title in a three-way tussle at the top. Which sounds weirdly familiar.
Could Valencia be bringing in Camp Nou blast from the past?
Real Madrid’s week has been fairly well publicised. It was something involving the Champions League apparently. But what of Valencia, their opponents in the Bernabéu on Sunday? Perhaps the most intriguing matter which may or not mean anything was a get together between Peter Lim, the club’s owner who is in town, and a figure normally associated with Barcelona.
The figure was former president, Joan Laporta, last seen contriving to lose a presidential election to Josep Bartomeu at the Camp Nou. Yes, the meeting was just a lunch, and Laporta is notoriously a fan of those, and the two are friends. But that doesn’t stop the pondering of a president Laporta at the helm of the Mestalla club, looking for a remedy to what has been a fairly rotten year.
Can relegated Levante lift themselves for Atlético effort?
It would be fair to say that Atlético Madrid and Levante have had ever so slightly different weeks. Paper thin differences. The former overcame Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League final where the Rojiblancos can gain revenge against Real Madrid from two years ago in Lisbon.
The latter ended Monday night getting relegated. And largely through an incorrectly disallowed goal. “An effing disgrace” was the verdict from one miffed player in the mixed zone.
However, the unifying factor of both sides ahead of Sunday’s clash in Valencia is that they are promising to take it seriously. To be fair, Atlético Madrid take every match seriously so Antoine Griezmann was wheeled out at a promotional event on Thursday to warn that “if we think about the final then we will lose in La Liga.”
It was harder to believe a clearly crestfallen David Navarro who admitted that he and his teammates were still in shock but claimed that “nobody should believe that Atléti will come here and win easily.” The defender has a point. The Rojiblancos never win easily. But they do win.
Can away day mobilisation save Rayo and Granada?
Rayo have gone to La Real with an Oliver Twist ‘please sir, can we have some more’ plea for more tickets
Two relegation threatened clubs have had the same idea over what to do to save the season on the penultimate day - free travel. Actually, one has gone one better. Rayo Vallecano and Granada face away days against Real Sociedad and Sevilla respectively.
Both clubs are offering free coach travel to away fans. And indeed, there may be a lot of them for Rayo, who have gone to La Real with an Oliver Twist ‘please sir, can we have some more’ plea for more tickets.
If Granada attempt the same with Sevilla then it may well end up becoming an expensive match for the club’s president, Quique Pina, who has bought up 1,100 tickets on offer at the Sánchez Pizjuan to give to Granada supporters as well as the club offering free travel.
That’s not all that surprising as the match is considerably more important for Granada, as the Andalusians are facing Barcelona on the final day of the season, who could well need a victory to win La Liga. And that’s not a good situation to be in for Granada at all.
Rayo, on the other hand, are currently on 35 points and have a fairly good chance of picking up three more on the final day of the season with a home win against Levante, even if matters should go pear-shaped up in San Sebastian. Which they won’t as Real Sociedad gave up on matters of La Liga some time ago with just one point picked up from the last 12 available.
Will Getafe see home turn into away in Sporting visit?
Getafe’s problem is not getting people to move to another ground, it’s getting them packed into their own venue for a whopper of a 26-pointer on Sunday. Getafe are currently in 19th place and second-from-bottom. Sporting are one place above and on the same amount of points. And the two teams are playing each other in the Coliseum.
However, knowing the humungous amount of support that Sporting tend to bring to games, no matter the importance, the Getafe blue might be wiped out by Gijón red-and-white with at least 4,000 expected to travel. As Getafe fullback, Damian Suarez, points out “whoever doesn’t win this game is practically in the second division.”