No, unfortunately it’s not the three-way tie it could have been heading into the final weekend. But the race between Valencia and Getafe for La Liga’s fourth spot in next year’s Champions League will still provide some drama.
The coveted place in the UCL would belong to Valencia if the season ended today. Both teams have 58 points, but Valencia holds the tiebreaker thanks to the head-to-head advantage (Valencia won the first meeting 1-0 on Nov. 10 and the rematch on March 17 ended in a 0-0 draw).
Speaking of their head-to-head meetings, Valencia also eliminated Getafe from the Copa del Rey 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals. We’ll know the winner of this race as soon as Valencia’s match at 16th-place Valladolid on Saturday at 10:15 a.m. Eastern and Getafe’s home clash with 14th-place Villarreal at the same time are in the books.
Just to cover our bases, we have to mention that if Sevilla (56 points) beats Athletic Bilbao on Saturday and both Valencia and Getafe lose, the spot would be theirs. FiveThirtyEight currently gives that a 2% chance of happening.
Back to Valladolid-Valencia and Getafe-Villarreal. According to FiveThirtyEight, Valencia has a 51% chance to win (the site says there is a 24% chance they lose and a 25% chance it’s a draw). The analytics site is more bullish on Getafe (60% chance to win, 16% to lose and 24% to draw).
Are These Games As Easy As They Look?
Considering the stakes, chalk would be comfortable victories for both these teams, but I have my doubts everything goes to plan. One reason why is that both Valencia and Getafe have had head-scratching slipups down the stretch.
Valencia lost to 12th-place Eibar on April 28 and lost to 19th-place — and relegated — Rayo Vallecano on April 6.
Getafe, on the other hand, is coming off a loss against a Barcelona team fresh off its UCL embarrassment at Anfield. While there’s no shame in the result against Barça, Manager Jose Bordalas’ team has not taken care of business over the last month. The April 28 loss to 8th-place Real Sociedad, the April 25 draw vs. Real Madrid and the April 14 draw vs. Valladolid will all be tough memories to erase if Getafe ends up missing out on the UCL.
The other reason to be on the lookout for an upset or two is that both Valladolid and Villarreal are currently playing much better than you’d expect teams at the bottom of the table to be playing this time of year.
Valladolid and Villarreal Playing Well
Valladolid is 3-2-1 in its last six, with the only loss a 1-0 defeat against Atlético Madrid. And Getafe’s opponent, Villarreal (4-1-1), is in better form than Getafe (2-2-2). Those strong finishes represent impressive responses to being in danger of relegation as late as April.
While we’re talking recent current form, Valencia is 4-0-2 in their last six. In fact, Getafe is the only one of these teams that is not in the midst of a strong finish.
The Bottom Line
All that being said, I think both these games will be fun to watch considering the stakes, but I see Valencia finding a way to win, rendering the result of Getafe-Villarreal irrelevant. Two reasons to expect a low-scoring, close match between Valencia and Valladolid: 1) These teams drew 1-1 in their previous meeting this season, meaning Valladolid should have Valencia’s full attention. 2) Valladolid have allowed just two goals in their last four matches.
Keep an eye on HPS in the weeks to come for end-of-season/early offseason content on La Liga. This will include a breakdown of what to expect from Valencia or Getafe in next year’s Champions League, a look at the offseason moves to expect from Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid (they miiight make a move or two) and Barcelona, and the latest on what promises to be another busy transfer window throughout Spain.