La Liga Title Race Still Open As Matchday 35 Could See Some Questions Resolved
If the midweek matches in Matchday 34 of the Liga Santander cleared up some issues, with Osasuna mathematically relegated to the second division, Matchday 35 this coming weekend could see more questions resolved in La Liga.
The battle for this season’s title won’t be decided over the weekend as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid continue their head to head for the league leadership, however, both sides face what could be their toughest games between now and the end of the campaign.
FC Barcelona travel across town to play local rivals Espanyol, and although Espanyol’s chances of qualifying for Europe seem to have evaporated after dropping points in their last two games, they have still had a solid season and denying Barcelona points in the title race would be the icing on the cake for the ‘Budgerigars.’
Barca coach Luis Enrique rested key players during the midweek thrashing of Osasuna and the likes of Andres Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti should all be fresh, while Neymar returns after suspension.
Real Madrid also rested key players for their win away to Deportivo la Coruna, but with a Champions League semifinal against Atletico Madrid around the corner, Zinedine Zidane could be tempted to repeat with players such as Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez, whom many believe should be first choice anyway.
Valencia travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on the back of consecutive defeats and with key players Joao Cancelo and Simeone Zaza suspended after picking up bookings in Wednesday’ s 3-2 home defeat to Real Sociedad.
Atletico Madrid suffered a shock home defeat to Villarreal on Tuesday and need a win away to Las Palmas in order to ensure prime position in their head to head with Sevilla for third place
Sevilla travel to face an in-form Malaga for an Andalusian derby on Monday night, while sixth placed Athletic Club will hope Celta Vigo will have one eye on next Thursday’ s Europa League semi-final against Manchester United when they visit the Balaidos Stadium on Sunday.
Although the issues could become clearer at the top of the table, it is at the bottom where more questions could be resolved definitively.
Defeat for Granada away to Real Sociedad would see them join Osasuna in the second division next season and with Real Sociedad aiming to qualify for Europe, it is hard to see Tony Adams’ side avoiding a fourth consecutive defeat under the English coach.
Sporting Gijon could also move closer to the abyss unless they produce a shock win away to fifth placed Villarreal on Friday night. Once again a surprise seems unlikely against a team which has Europe in its sights and a defeat for Sporting would give Leganes the chance to move to within a point of assuring their continuity in the top flight, with a win in Eibar (although that is more easily said than done against the rugged Basque outfit).
Deportivo will assure their future if they can beat already relegated Osasuna, but won’t find it easy against a team looking to salvage some pride in front of their home fans, while neither Betis not Alaves have much to play for in their mid-table clash.