Why Granada are the best-supported team in the world now (for a week, anyway)
That was a whole bag of fun. Ten games played at the same time is an all-too-rare thing these days but when they are, it is an epic test of organisational ability which La Liga Loca normally fails in.
By the end of the evening, the blog had Barcelona in the Intertoto Cup and Racing Santander clinching the title after points calculations went awry.
But rather dramatic business did get done at both ends of the table, with one title-chaser dropping out and a very fond friend of La Primera now on the brink of leaving it.
Atlético fall at final hurdle to miss last-day title tussle
With an opening goal after 82 seconds against an already-relegated Levante, it seemed as if Atlético were lending a helping hand to La Liga watchers so that full focus could then be spread across just nine games. If there was one side that could sit on a lead like a chicken on an egg for 88 minutes, it was the Rojiblancos.
But then news of weirdness crept over to Valencia, where Real Madrid were playing. There hadn’t been just a equalising goal for Levante but an actual winner by Giuseppe Rossi in the final seconds, as Atlético pushed everyone up the other end of the pitch.
There were no complaints from the suspended Diego Simeone, who was watching from the radio cabin in the stands and later praised the cojones of the opposition for once, rather than those of his own team. “The Levante players have an enormous nobility, they competed and fought despite being relegated. It’s great thing for football, a team can win in the semi-finals (of the Champions League) and then lose.”
The defeat sends Atlético out of the title race before the final round. Although it was a heck of an achievement for the Rojiblancos to have lasted so long in the first place, the unexpected nature of the team’s first dropped points in seven La Liga games will still have supporters reeling for a few days.
That’s before they pick chins off the ground for the fun of a Champions League final, of course.
And then there were two...
It was complete cruise control for Barcelona in the Catalan derby, in a match that very nearly ended in an impromptu title-winning party which would have been the equivalent of trying to find something vaguely drinkable in a 24-hour chemist at 3am in the morning.
Luis Suárez popped in a couple of goals to all but seal the Pichichi title in a 5-0 win, Leo Messi continued his giving streak as well as popping one in on his own, and Rafinha sealed his comeback from a cruciate ligament injury with a goal. Atlético Madrid dropped out of the title race, and Granada ensured survival to make their final-day clash potentially even easier.
Real Madrid had a less comfortable ride, at least until Valencia pulled the score back from 3-1 to 3-2 with 10 minutes to go and put the Santiago Bernabéu club in the jittery situation.
Despite the promise of a third-party candidate in the title race this year, it will be the two usual suspects going into the last day of the season, with the future of La Liga being decided up in La Coruña and down in Granada.
Granada pounce on Sevilla off-day to save Primera skins
Speaking of which, the result of the day was pulled off by the Andalusian outfit, who managed to grab a 4-1 away win in the normally-secure Sánchez Pizjuán. The victory, along with dropped points by Getafe, Rayo and Sporting, means Granada will stay up – although there were a few mutterings about Sevilla taking their feet off the accelerator after Thursday’s Europa League tie.
But Granada boss José Gonzalez was having none of it. “You just have to see how the Sevilla players celebrated the goal that tied the game, over in the corner. Actions speak louder than words,” noted the boss whose team have won three from their last four to leave themselves a final-day challenge of doing Real Madrid the biggest of favours.
Getafe have future in own hands despite lousy-looking table
Things don’t exactly look favourable for Getafe, a team third from bottom and tied on points with Sporting with just one game to go. But the league table isn’t exactly accurate thanks to the peculiarities of Spain’s head-to-head system.
Before the final round takes place, the league is formatted in the traditional sense by goal difference. But tied teams in La Liga are ultimately separated by their head-to-head record, which is when the league table is reflected correctly.
Getafe’s record against Sporting is better, so if both teams win their final games next Sunday then it’s the Madrid club that will stay up. That made Getafe’s equaliser in Sunday’s match against the aforementioned club doubly important.
Rayo on brink of sorry slip into La Segunda
Despite a soul-restoring run in La Primera, it looks like Rayo’s days are numbered in the top flight. An away defeat for the Vallecas outfit against Real Sociedad leaves them needing to beat Levante at home next week and hope that both Getafe and Sporting drop points.
It’s an unlikely scenario that even Rayo boss Paco Jémez feels is too much to hope for. “We needed the best day to keep depending on ourselves yet we had the worst day of the season, and I feel that it’s sending us to the second division.”
- The Week In Barcelona: Title glory beckons as champions approach final hurdle
- The Week In Real Madrid: Ronaldo's brace keeps Blancos breathing, as Arbeloa treated to hero's farewell