La Liga: With a few games remaining, what all to watch out for?
Here comes a look at what is still left to play for in the title race, the European qualification battles, the relegation scrap and the quest to win individual awards.Updated: Jul 14, 2020 17:48 IST
The chequered flag is in sight for the 2019/20 La Liga season, with just a few matchdays remaining until the end of a campaign that had to be delayed for three months due to the coronavirus outbreak. There has already been so much drama and suspense since football returned on June 11th and there’s surely much more in store as we approach July 19th, the day when the top-flight action will be wrapped up.
Here comes a look at what is still left to play for in the title race, the European qualification battles, the relegation scrap and the quest to win individual awards.
The title race
Real Madrid come around the final bend with an advantage over FC Barcelona. The Catalan club were leading the table when football returned, but Los Blancos hit the ground running after the restart with eight victories from their first eight matches back, with Sergio Ramos in particularly great form with five goals. At the same time, FC Barcelona dropped points in their tough fixtures against Sevilla FC, RC Celta Vigo and Atlético de Madrid.
If the title race goes all the way to the final day of the season then it could be particularly nerve-racking for fans of each club. Even though FC Barcelona’s match away at D Alavés and Real Madrid’s match away at CD Leganés both seem winnable on paper, those two opponents could be fighting for their lives in the relegation battle and may have everything to play for too.
Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are set to claim the top three positions in the LaLiga Santander table, but fourth is still up for grabs. Finishing fourth grants qualification to the Champions League and many teams are still in with a chance of winning that golden ticket. While Sevilla FC are currently in fourth, their form hasn’t been very consistent since the restart and they’re being chased down by Villarreal CF, Getafe CF and Real Sociedad.
The Europa League berths are also being fought over, with fifth position, sixth position and seventh position set to grant entry into this continental competition. Villarreal CF, Getafe CF and Athletic Club are the current occupiers of these spots, but Real Sociedad aren’t far behind and there could even be a Basque battle for the final spot between La Real and Athletic, the two teams who’ll later meet in the Copa del Rey final. Granada CF and Valencia CF shouldn’t be ruled out either.
The relegation battle
In Matchday 34, there was a basement battle between RCD Espanyol and CD Leganés, the two teams at the bottom of the table. While the result of that game was never going to be definitive, it was essentially a duel to see which of those two sides would maintain any hope of staying up and it was CD Leganés who won to fight another day.
CD Leganés still face an uphill battle and will require something of a miracle to survive, especially as they must face Real Madrid on the final day.
As we approach the final rounds of the season, the teams who are still mathematically at risk of relegation after the Matchday 34 are RC CeltaVigo, SD Eibar and D Alavés, plus the bottom three of RCD Mallorca, CD Leganés and RCD Espanyol. It’ll be fascinating to watch this scrap for points over the final few rounds of the season.
The Pichichi and Zarra
Each year, the overall top scorer in LaLiga Santander is awarded the Pichichi Award and Lionel Messi is very much on course to win it again this term for what would be the fourth year in a row and his seventh overall.
There’s much more intrigue, meanwhile, in the Zarra Award, which is given to the highest scoring Spaniard in the league. This race is much tighter as Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno, RC Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas, Athletic Club’s Raúl García, Levante’s Roger Martí, Getafe’s Jaime Mata, D Alavés’ Lucas Pérez and Atlético Madrid’s Álvaro Morata are all within five goals of each other as they approach the final few rounds of action.
The Zamora Award, meanwhile, is the prize for the goalkeeper who has conceded the fewest goals per game on average over the season, so long as that player has featured in at least 28 matches. Thibaut Courtois currently leads the way, but Jan Oblak is not far behind and cannot be ruled out considering he has won this prize in each of the past four seasons.