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By Sean Teixeira – Summer Staff Writer
It was the penultimate week of the La Liga season, with each team playing two matches and leaving each with two remaining. Some races within the table have been settled at this point but others remain on a knife’s edge. The remaining match days will take place with all games being played simultaneously which will surely maximize the stakes, pressure and drama. Let’s take a look a the week that was and preview what to look for in the final week of the La Liga season:
Granada CF 1-2 Real Madrid (Highlights)
It was a tale of two halves in this one, but Madrid was able to do enough in the first half to secure the win, leaving them just one victory away from the La Liga title. The league leaders flew out of the gate with 2 goals in the opening 20 minutes. Ferland Mendy scored his first goal for Los Blancos in the 10th minute with a left foot blast from a tight angle that flew just over the head of the Granada goalkeeper. Benzema doubled the lead 6 minutes later with a curling effort from a similar position. It would seem that Madrid would cruise to victory from there but Granada came out firing in the second half with Machis scoring off a breakaway in the 50th minute to make it a game. A tense second half ensued but Madrid was able to hang on for a vital win.
Real Valladolid 0-1 FC Barcelona (Highlights)
Barcelona was to keep the title alive with their second 1-0 victory of the week. They were able to create a series of early chances, the best of them resulting in their only goal. A clever dinked pass from Messi found Arturo Vidal in the box who turned and fired the ball off the post and in for the lead in the 15th minute. The game was marked by several half chances for both teams the rest of the match. A great save by Ter-Stegen from a header off a free-kick kept Bacra’s lead intact late on. This win keeps the pressure on Real Madrid but still leaves Barcelona needing a lot of help to overcome their rivals at the top of the table.
Villarreal 1-2 Real Sociedad (Highlights)
Sociedad got a massive boost to their Europa League qualification hopes in this one as they were able to go on the road and beat the current 5th placers 2-1. They seemed to find a weakness in the Villarreal team, as they were able to score a pair of headers off corner kicks to lead them to victory. The opener came from Willian Jose in the 61st minute and the eventual game winner from center back Diego Llorente in the 75th minute. Villarreal would pull one back late on from Santi Cazorla in the 84th minute but they weren’t able to threaten La Real again after that.
Deportivo Alavés 0-0 Getafe (Highlights)
This match that affected the Europa League race as well as the relegation battle ended in a goalless draw. Getafe came close to opening the scoring when midfielder Cucurella unleashed a wicked half-volley that struck the post but bounced out. Getafe would eventually find the back of the net after a rebound off another shot that came off the post but VAR would pull the goal back for a handball on a Getafe forward before the shot that led to the rebound. It gives Alaves a valuable point to leave them 4 points above the relegation zone and Getafe hold on barely to the last Europa League spot.
Look at the Standings:
- Real Madrid (83pts) maintain their 4 point lead over Barcelona (79pts). A win in either of their remaining matches secures them the title, adding to their record of 33 titles already
- Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both sit at 66 points, and have clinched Champions League qualification in 3rd and 4th position. Atleti currently lead Sevilla by goal differential (+22 vs +19)
- Villarreal (57pts) occupy 5th place and just ahead of Getafe and Real Sociedad (54pts each). Due to the Copa del Rey Final being postponed the 7th place finishers also qualify for the Europa League
- Athletic Bilbao (51pts), Valencia (50pts) and Granada (50pts) still have an outside chance of securing one of the final European places
- Celta Vigo and Alaves (36pts each) will both be searching for positive results to ensure their safety, attempting to hold off Leganes and Mallorca (32pts each).
- Espanyol (24pts) are mathematically relegated
What to watch:
Real Madrid vs Villarreal (July 16th 3pm EST)
A victory for Real Madrid would win them the title, but this match will be no gimme. Villarreal is looking to clinch their position in next year’s Europa League, and their leading scorer Gerard Moreno will be back from suspension in this one.
Getafe vs Atletico Madrid (July 16th 3pm EST)
A clash between two teams occupying European position, this will surely be a high quality matchup. Atleti will be looking to stay sharp before their upcoming Champions League quarterfinal and Getafe are battling for Europa League qualification.
Deportivo Alaves vs FC Barcelona (July 19th 3pm EST)
This game could mark a last stand for both of these teams. This will be Barca’s last chance to gain points on Real Madrid and this will be Alaves’ last chance to stake off relegation. This will be a hard fought battle.
Sevilla vs Valencia (July 19th 3pm EST)
Valencia will be desperate in chasing a final victory to give them hope of European competition next season, while Sevilla will be looking to sneak into 3rd place and put a feather in the cap of a tremendous season.
Leganes vs Real Madrid (July 19th 3pm EST)
Potentially a second chance at securing the title if they are unable to win against Villarreal midweek, expect a show of force from Madrid in this one against relegation fighters Leganes.
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