LaLiga Santander MD 34 Preview: Europe’s Tightest Title Race Approaches Homestretch

There is no title race in Europe as competitive as that of LaLiga Santander, with four teams all within touching distance of the top of the table.

Defending champions Real Madrid are joined by FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid and Sevilla FC in this battle for domestic glory and each candidate has a tough match coming up this weekend before they face off against each other next week. The two capital city sides have their matches on Saturday, before Barça play on Sunday and Sevilla on Monday.

The very first game of the weekend is the Friday night fixture between RC Celta and Levante UD, a match which takes on added importance given that Celta’s recent good form has put them in with a chance of European qualification.

Currently, eight points behind the last European qualification spot with five rounds to go, they need the three points and will look to take advantage of Levante’s recent poor form (five defeats in six).

A Basque derby kicks off Saturday’s action as D. Alaves host SD Eibar. This is more than just a derby as both sides are in the bottom five and sweating for their LaLiga Santander survival.

Then, at 4.15pm, Elche CF host Atlético de Madrid as the home side target the three points to help with their own survival efforts and as the visitors look to get back on track in their title charge following a defeat last weekend. After several weeks of missing players through injury and suspension, Los Rojiblancos are finally getting healthy and will be full of energy after a midweek with no fixture.

LaLiga Santander is so competitive this year that every fixture has something riding on it and that’s also true of the Saturday evening duel between SD Huesca and Real Sociedad, with the former currently in the relegation zone and looking to move up the standings quickly and with the latter chasing Europa League qualification for next term.

At 9pm on Saturday night, Real Madrid continue their quest to defend the championship they won last year with a home encounter with CA Osasuna. These two sides played out a goalless draw in the Pamplona snow earlier in the campaign but will now meet on the first day of May at Real Madrid’s Estadio Di Stéfano in Valdebebas – a stadium which has seen its fair share of torrential weather in recent weeks!

Sunday begins with Real Valladolid vs Real Betis and, once again, it’s a match with so much at stake. Real Valladolid are currently the last team inside the relegation zone, while Los Verdiblancos will be looking to jumpstart their European push again after five consecutive draws.

Villarreal CF face Getafe CF next and the Yellow Submarine know they can’t afford to take it easy. Unai Emery’s men are currently in seventh and in the final European spot, but they’ll want to move up the table to turn their Conference League ticket into another Europa League pass.

Sunday evening throws up an Andalusian derby, as Granada CF and Cádiz CF meet at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes for the first time ever in LaLiga Santander. Although these sides have met dozens of times over the years, their only previous top-flight clash was the 1-1 draw in Cádiz earlier this campaign.

Then, the 9pm Saturday night fixture is one of the biggest and best in Spanish football. Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona is a huge duel between two sides who have produced some classics over the years. Their past 15 meetings have thrown up seven Barça wins, three Valencia CF wins and five draws, with 53 goals scored for an average of 3.5 goals per game. Their encounter at Camp Nou earlier this season ended 2-2 and, should Los Che hold Barça again, it would be yet another twist in a thrilling title race.

The race for the title continues into Monday night, when Sevilla FC look to make it six wins in a row against Athletic Club. Julen Lopetegui’s side have propelled themselves into the race since the March international break with seven wins from their last eight, but will be wary of an Athletic Club side that seriously dented tleti’s title hopes last weekend.

No matter what the situation at the top of the table is by kick-off of this Monday night fixture, it’ll be a can’t miss encounter to round off the weekend’s action.