IT is disappointing and unusual this weekend’s final round of La Liga fixtures have nothing riding on them whatsoever. The only interest is in who finishes fifth and sixth, and who finishes bottom!
It’s been that kind of season, thanks in the main to Barcelona who went top in week one and have stayed there ever since. Nobody has ever got near enough to make it a genuine title race.
Valencia were the early challengers, starting the season with 13 games undefeated, but they were never likely to last the pace.
Barcelona’s 3-0 win in the first Clasico at the Bernabeu in December ended any chance of Real Madrid closing the gap on their big rivals. At the halfway stage everybody knew the title was theirs. Madrid could then concentrate on trying to win the Champions League again — an attempt which isn’t going too badly at all.
Atletico ticked away with their unique style to be deserved runners-up but look likely to finish 12 points adrift of the champions.
However, for Atletico to finish above Real in the league and have won the Europa League final this week makes it an outstanding season for them.
Valencia and Real Betis have been the pleasant surprises. Both finished just above the drop zone last term but made the right choices when appointing new managers. They have certainly both been through a few over the last few seasons!
Valencia will finish fourth and are back into the Champions League, Betis have clinched a Europa League berth and are hoping to finish fifth going into the last game.
Villarreal and Sevilla will also represent La Liga in the Europa League. Like at the top, the bottom three have been known for quite a while and we didn’t really have a relegation battle due to the hapless form of all three teams.
Malaga are currently bottom with 20 points, two adrift of Las Palmas. Deportivo la Coruna are in the final relegation position — 11 points behind the team above them!
The main story at the bottom was the managerial change at Levante, who sacked Juan Muniz after 27 games.
He was replaced by the relatively unknown Paco Lopez in a last throw of the dice. They had 21 points and were in the mire.
The new coach then proceeded to win eight and draw one of his first ten games and topped it off last week when his team became the first to beat Barca this season in a thrilling 5-4 victory.
Lopez has taken 25 points from just ten games — the type of impact you can only dream of when you make a big decision at the bottom of the league. Unfortunately for the relegated three, none of the nine managers they had between them worked!
So this week the main story will be the final game of the campaign on Sunday in which Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta will have the honour of lifting the La Liga trophy following the meeting with Real Sociedad.
It will be his last game at Barca and I’m sure it’s going to be a very emotional scene at the Nou Camp. For Iniesta to bow out clinching another domestic double is a fitting tribute indeed.