Spanish League Preview – Week 34

Xavi against Real Sociedad / PHOTO: ARCHIVE - FCB
With just four games left after this weekend’s round of matches, the title could be decided by Sunday night, whilst the battle at the bottom is set to become ever more desperate.

Home sweet home? With just five points separating them, five of the bottom six teams in the relegation fight are at home in this weekend’s round of matches – only Osasuna are on the road, away to Valencia. Celta could only manage a draw at home to Bilbao on Friday and that leaves them third from bottom on 31 points. Both Deportivo (31) and Granada (32), could overtake Osasuna (33) if they win at home to Atletico Madrid and Malaga respectively, whilst Zaragoza will draw level if they can make it two home wins on the run against Rayo on Sunday and the Basques fail to take anything from Mestalla. Mallorca’s slim hopes of survival mean a win at home to Levante is vital, with the Islanders bottom on 28 points. The only ray of hope for Osasuna is that the four teams with the worst home record in La Liga……are Mallorca, Zaragoza, Granada and Deportivo.

Can Real Madrid bounce back? Anything less than a win for Real Madrid at the Bernabeu against Valladolid on Saturday would give Barça the chance to clinch the title on Sunday against Betis. Still licking their wounds from Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final defeat, with captain Iker Casillas still banished to the bench and amidst rumours of big changes for the coming season filling the Madrid media, Mourinho will have to lift his team to face a carefree Valladolid side who have already secured safety. Sergio Ramos is definitely out of the game with a muscles strain and Cristiano Ronaldo is doubtful.

Is the dream coming true for the “Txuri-urdin”? Unbeaten in their last 15 games and sitting five points clear of Malaga and Valencia (both beaten 4-2 at Anoeta over the last month) in fourth, Real Sociedad’s dream of a Champions League football next year is looking ever more likely to become a reality. On Monday night they visit Getafe and although they will be without the injured Xabi Prieto – the only survivor of the squad who last played in the Champions League 10 years ago – and possibly his midfield partner Asier Illarramendi, the Basque side are clearly confident of their chances. According to Real’s Markel Bergara: “it’s in our hands now. Beating Barça at Anoeta was a real confidence booster – we think we can beat anyone at the moment! If you’d said we would be battling for a Champions League spot at the start of the campaign, we’d have thought you were mad –but we’ve really progressed and here we are!”