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Gus Poyet is back in business as La Liga strugglers make their move

Had the planning for the final day of the league season in Spain gone completely without bumbling bewilderment, then La Liga Loca would have been hugely disappointed – and more than slightly concerned over the fate of the planet. But the blog had nothing to worry about.

Initially, the concept in La Liga was to have all the games being played at the same time on Sunday, as was the situation last week. That was enormous fun and saved a lot of time over the weekend, to be fair.

But then the powers-that-be decided late on Sunday night to spread all 10 matches across three days, dividing the games into three basic categories: league title stuff, relegation stuff, and meaningless stuff.

Hooray for nothing

They’ve already begun to rest, so it won’t be a problem to play Saturday

For that reason, Valencia against Real Sociedad was plonked into Friday night’s slot for a Letdown of the Year award battle. Friday was also what Sevilla were hoping for, in what is a very humdrum match against Athletic Bilbao that will decide nothing of note.

The reason for Sevilla’s desire to be pushed forward a day (or is it back? LLL can never tell) is to give them as much time as possible to prepare for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Liverpool. Instead, Unai Emery’s side are playing on Saturday evening, with the Spanish Football League turning down a request to have the kick-off time moved. “They’ve already begun to rest,” noted the La Liga president Javier Tebas, “so it won’t be a problem to play Saturday.”

That rather barbed remark, even by Tebas’s standards, was in reference to a few raised eyebrows over Sevilla’s sudden home collapse against Granada on Sunday, which saw their Andalusian brothers-in-arms safe on the penultimate day of the season. With the scores tied at 1-1 with 12 minutes to go, the normally solid-at-home Sevilla contrived to concede three goals and lose 4-1.

Barcelona and Real Madrid will kick off their games before the Europa League finalists, at 5pm local time. 

Hop on the bus, Gus

Betis’s objective for next season is to be in the top 10. Anything else would be a disaster for those of us at the club

On the same day in Spain, Sevilla’s other outfit Betis were also making the news by preparing for next season a little early.

Coach Juan Merino was hoping to have his position of interim coach cemented into something more permanent after ensuring the team’s Primera survival this season. But Betis had other plans and announced the recruitment of former Sunderland and Brighton boss Gus Poyet.

Betis president Angel Haro quickly gave ominous notice about what was to be expected of the manager. “Betis’s objective for next season is to be in the top 10,” he declared. “Anything else would be a disaster for those of us at the club.”

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Poyet’s first job will be to have a massive declutter after last summer’s recruitment went a little awry. The forward line will also need to be freshened up, with the club almost entirely relying on the goals of 34-year-old striker Rubén Castro, who has managed 18 league strikes so far this season.

At least Betis are showing the kind of forward planning that those running the game in Spain are still befuddled by, with supporters having to remake plans for matches that could decide the immediate futures of their beloved clubs.  

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