La Liga Matchday 35: Barcelona Closes In On Title, Getafe Continues Pursuit Of First Trip To Champions League

Tyler Everett April 27, 2019 614 Reads

Barcelona is one win — against 15th-place Levante at home on Saturday — from clinching the La Liga title. FiveThirtyEight gives Lionel Messi and Co. an 86% chance to win that one and make it official.

With a nine-point lead over second-place Atlético, the Catalans would also clinch another La Liga crown with a loss by Los Rojiblancos against Valladolid this weekend. An Atleti draw would mean all Barca have to do is secure a result themselves.

While Ernesto Valverde’s side has not been on the tear that either Manchester City or Liverpool have been on all season in the EPL, this club has not lost a league match since Nov. 11 (!). Even in a down year – to put it lightly – for Real Madrid, that is staggering in a league as good as La Liga. Atlético Madrid remains among the best teams on the continent – they were unlucky not to make the UCL quarters – and any time your sixth-place team is still alive in Europe (Valencia is a Europa League semifinalist), it speaks to your depth as a league.

Atleti will be kicking itself for back-to-back losses to Real Betis on February 3 and February 9, but there’s no shame in finishing second to a Barcelona team that has won 17 of 22 games, without a loss, during the season’s most important months.

Will Getafe secure its Champions League debut?

We’ll talk plenty more about Barcelona’s chances at a treble soon. For now, let’s focus on whether it will be Getafe – which has never qualified for the UCL – Sevilla or Valencia as the Spanish league’s fourth representative in next year’s Champions League. Getafe was leading this race the first time we broke it down back in March.

The Madrid club is still in the driver’s seat, as it is tied with Sevilla with 55 points, but holds the tiebreaker, having won their two meetings by a combined score of 5-0, including last Sunday’s 3-0 romp. Valencia is also right on both these teams’ heels and could make it a three-way tie with a win this weekend and losses by Getafe and Sevilla.

FiveThirtyEight believes in Sevilla, whom it gives a 42% chance at UCL qualification. The analytics site appears to view this as a two-horse race, giving Getafe a 35% chance, while putting little faith in Valencia (22%). It’s hard to say whether the site is influenced by Sevilla being a much better-known brand or by numbers like the club’s superior goal differential (plus-17, compared to plus-14 for Getafe).

As is the case in the Premier League, none of these three teams have been on fire of late: Getafe has earned nine of a possible 15 points over its last five games, compared to 12 for Sevilla and nine for Valencia.

Getafe’s last four games are against 11th-place Real Sociedad, 18th-place Girona, Barcelona (whose top players almost certainly won’t play) and 14th-place Villarreal — not exactly a daunting home stretch.

Sevilla, meanwhile, closes with Girona, Leganés (12th), Atlético and Athletic Bilbao (7th), while Valencia faces Eibar (13th), Huesca (19th), Alavés (8th) and Valladolid (17th). Sevilla’s remaining slate is probably the toughest, but all three teams in this race are favored in at least three of their last four games, per FiveThirtyEight.

It’s interesting that Getafe is currently considered a massive underdog against Barcelona, with a 7% chance to win, but the odds for that match-up will almost certainly change dramatically after this weekend. A similar dynamic could be in play for Sevilla-Atlético, as Simeone’s team will have little to play for in its second-to-last game of the season.

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