La Liga Matchday 32 Preview: Fourth UCL Spot Remains Up For Grabs

Tyler Everett April 12, 2019 390 Reads

Following Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Atlético Madrid last weekend, the Catalans are now 11 points clear of Atleti and focused on their Champions League quarterfinal match against Manchester United. With seven La Liga games remaining, there is not much to say about the title “race.” La Liga does, however, still have a compelling fight for its fourth Champions League spot.

The race for the final UCL spot

Fourth-place Getafe (50) has a narrow lead on Sevilla (49), Valencia (46) and Alavés (45). Neither Athletic Bilbao (43) nor Real Betis (43) is in the thick of the UCL battle, but a hot streak by either could change that in a hurry.

FiveThirtyEight loves Sevilla, giving them a 50% (!) chance to qualify for the UCL, while pegging Getafe at 30% and Valencia at 17%. While I’m concerned with Getafe’s recent form – they’ve earned just five points on one win in their last four games – that shouldn’t make them such an underdog to a team they’re ahead of in the standings.

Sevilla is certainly the hottest club in this race, as it has won four of five in La Liga and allowed just one goal in its last four games. Neither of their next two games is a gimme, as they host Real Betis on Saturday before traveling to Getafe on April 21. Wins in both matches would not only justify FiveThirtyEight’s faith, but also put Sevilla at least two points ahead of Getafe.

Getafe will have a tough stretch following Sunday’s match at 17th-place Real Valladolid. The Sevilla match will be followed by a home game against Real Madrid and a trip to 10th-place Real Sociedad.

Relegation battle: Who’s coming and who’s going?

The bottom of the La Liga table is currently occupied by last-place Huesca, with 24 points. They trail Rayo Vallecano (27) and Villarreal (30). Real Valladolid is tied on points with Villarreal, but would stay up if the season ended today on head-to-head results.

Villarreal would appear to be the team in this group that is most likely to get hot, as their goal differential of minus-7 is the same as Real Betis’ minus-7 or – is this a misprint?? – Alavés minus-8. Is it just me, or is it absurd that two teams with the same differential could be 15 points apart in the table, with one still alive for a UCL spot and the other worried about staying up?

Anyway, on to the teams in line to secure promotion: La Liga 1|2|3 leader Osasuna (64), second-place Granada (61) and third-place Albacete (60) all must like their chances to finish in the top two, which means automatic promotion.

The three teams that would join Albacete in the playoff for the final spot in the ’19-20 La Liga season if the season ended today are Málaga (55), Deportivo La Coruña (54) and Mallorca (54). Seventh-place Cádiz (53) will also be a factor.

With nine games remaining, Cádiz is not the only team that will have a say at the top of Spain’s second tier.

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