Matchday 35 in the La Liga could be divided into four parts. The battle for the title between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the struggle for third place between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, the contest to qualify for next season’ s Europa League and the fight to avoid relegation.
These are four things we learned from matchday 34 in Spain:
The battle for the title will probably go to the wire
Both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona won what looked on paper at least as their toughest games between now and the end of the campaign. Real Madrid made hard work of Valencia, while Barca cast off the first half shackles against local rivals, Espanyol, to claim what in the end was a comfortable win.
Barcelona still have to entertain Villarreal, which could be difficult, while Sevilla have yet visited the Santiago Bernabeu and Celta away could be a tough test for Madrid as long as Celta are not too focused on the Europa League. But it is hard to see either of the two losing between now and the end of the season. Real Madrid have a game in hand, which makes them favorites to win the title.
All-Madrid Champions League semi-final should be close run thing
All attention in Spain will be fixed on the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between Real and Atletico Madrid.
Atletico travel to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, still smarting from two final defeats to their neighbors, with especially painful memory of last season’s loss in a penalty shoot-out. The two sides drew 1-1 recently in the league, but Real Madrid probably deserved more and have shown an ability to raise their game for big matches.
Coach Zinedine Zidane is without Gareth Bale, but as Marco Asensio and Isco remain in good form, Bale’s absence shouldn’t be noticed. Atletico have injury worries at right back and over the influential Yannick Carrasco.
The visitors look to keep things tight and hope the pace of Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro to give them an away goal, while Real will probably think that if they can keep a clean sheet they will have the edge for the return leg in the Vicente Calderon a week later.
Europa League is very expensive this season
Villarreal, Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Sociedad are currently dueling it out for fifth and sixth place and qualification for next season’s Europa League, however booking a ticket for Europe this season is more expensive than ever.
All three teams have won their last three matches to leave them with 63, 62 and 61 points respectively with three games left to play.
Bear in mind that last season Villarreal finished fourth in the table to book a Champions League spot with 64 points and that Athletic finished fifth with 62, the same as they have now. It shows just how hard this season has become and the team that eventually finishes seventh can count themselves very unlucky indeed, although they would also qualify if Barcelona defeat Alaves in the Cup final.
It’s not looking good for Sporting Gijon
The battle to avoid relegation this season has sometimes more resembled a race between snails as all of the sides in the danger zone have struggled to gain points. Osasuna and Granada are already relegated with 19 and 20 points respectively from 35 matches, while third from bottom Sporting Gijon have just 24 points from the same number of games.
With three games remaining the team from Asturias are six points behind Leganes, who have 30 points, while Deportivo la Coruna are still not safe with 32 points.
Sporting will fancy their chances of beating Las Palmas, while Betis travel to the El Molinon stadium in the last weekend, but their destiny is not in their hands and that is always a bad sign.