We didn’t get the title race or top-four battle we hoped for when play resumed, but there’s still plenty to talk about a day after La Liga came to a conclusion with Sunday’s nine-game finish.
Below is what we ended up with at the top of the table, plus a few quick thoughts on the last 11 games for each team that qualified for Europe next season.
La Liga European qualifications and relegations
Real Madrid (we wrote about their dominant finish last week), Barcelona, Atleti and Sevilla qualified for the Champions League. Villarreal, Real Sociedad and *Granada earned spots in the Europa League.
The three teams that suffered relegation were Leganes, Mallorca and Espanyol.
*Granada will be in the second qualifying round of the UEL.
- First place: Real Madrid, 87 points (31/33 possible points since play resumed): Los Blancos finished strong, clinching La Liga ahead of Sunday’s game vs. Leganés, which turned out to be the only time in 11 matches that they dropped points. It can’t be a coincidence that the one game they didn’t win was the one that didn’t matter, can it?
- Second place: Barcelona, 82 (24/33). This isn’t the only thing we’ll say on the Catalans, but for now, let’s just say it feels like they fared a lot worse than 7-3-1 down the stretch, doesn’t it??
- Third place: Atlético Madrid, 70 (25/33). Other than RM, these guys have been the best team in Spain in recent weeks. Went from out of next year’s Champions League in sixth place at the break to third with an 11-game winless streak. Los Rojiblancos have somehow not lost since February 1 (!!).
- Fourth place: Sevilla, 70 (23/33). Did what they had to do to comfortably finish top-four for the first time since ’16-17. A big step forward this season for a team that finished in 7th place in ’17-18 and in sixth last season. With Monchi at the helm, expect another strong summer and don’t be shocked if they’re Spain’s fourth team in the Champions League group stage next season.
- Fifth place: Villarreal, 60 (22/33). Ended up well short of fourth place, but considering where they were when play stopped in March — in eighth, with just 38 points — they turned in a tremendous finish. With La Liga’s third-best offense, they’ll be fun to watch in next year’s Europa League. And they’ll probably be coached by Unai Emery, making them that much more interesting to monitor.
- Sixth place: Real Sociedad, 56 (10/33). Miserable play down the stretch will leave a lot of people wondering what these guys were up to while inactive in April and May. Nothing wrong with the UEL, especially for every La Liga team outside the big three, but the Champions League was well within reach this season.
- Seventh place: Granada 56 (18/33). Hard to believe this team was in the Segunda just a year ago. Started the season hot, briefly moving into first place after a matchday 5 win over Barcelona on September 21. This will be the type of season every promoted club aspires to enjoy for quite a while.
Forgettable Finishes For Getafe, Valencia
As for eighth-place Getafe (54) and ninth-place Valencia (53), the less we say, the better, for their sakes.
Getafe was in a great position to finish top-four, but earned just eight points over their last 11 matches. Getafe-lovers, if you’re out there, let’s turn our attention to Inter Milan (+105) vs. Getafe (+270) in the Europa League round of 16 on August 5.
Valencia, considering its roster and the fact it was in the Champions League this season, also disappointed, capturing just 11 of the 33 available points post-pandemic. It’s almost like they should have kept Marcelino, who engineered last year’s strong finish but was sacked in September. Sure enough, his replacement, the inexperienced Albert Celades, was sacked after the club won just one of five coming back from the break. As the London Guardian pointed out, Valencia has had 12 coaches since Emery left the club in the summer of 2012.
More Records For Lionel Messi
It’s no secret that he is an unbelievable passer in addition to being the best scorer of all time. But even for him, his total assists this season (21) were absurd. That broke his former teammate Xavi’s record of 20, set back in ’08-09. It also meant he was responsible for 46 of 86 Barcelona goals this year. And people say this team is unbalanced …
Speaking of Messi’s scoring, he just finished as the Spanish league’s top scorer for the seventh time. No player in league history has won the Pichichi award that many times. He’s the best, if anyone was still wondering.
More to come on Barcelona, especially their Champions League outlook, soon on High Press Soccer.