Seven clubs in race to play in Europe

Real Madrid and Barcelona, in no particular order, have already bolted the door to the top two positions in the Spanish Primera Division again this season.
Hamza Nkuutu
Hamza Nkuutu

Real Madrid and Barcelona, in no particular order, have already bolted the door to the top two positions in the Spanish Primera Division again this season.

But the battle to join them for the right to play in Europe next season is turning out to be the tightest in years, with a total of seven clubs or more in with shout to claim the remaining two Champions League and two Europa League spots.

Third and fourth placed teams, Valencia and Malaga respectively are level on 47 points, 22 points behind second-placed Barcelona, with 27 points still to play for this season.

Levante (44 points) and Ossasuna (43 points), occupy the two automatic Europa League places, but the likes of Atletico Madrid (40 points), Espanyol, Sevilla and Getafe (all on 39 points), are not too far behind in race for Europe.

Funny though is the fact that Villarreal, the team that finished fourth last season, taking the final Champions League place, is 16th, one point from the relegation trap door.

Big spenders Malaga appear to be on course to achieve their target of playing in the Champions League after being taken over members of the Qatari Royal family last year. Next target will/should be challenging Real Madrid and Barcelona for the title.

Valencia, the perennial third place finishers, seem to have a psychological problem where motivation does not come easily. They have set up home in third; they have bolted the back door on it, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona have bolted the front.

Valencia were third last year, third the year before and they are third now. They are even third in the all-time table, again with Madrid and Barca leading the way in that order.

The Valencia-based club know they are not going to finish any higher and they know they are probably not going to finish any lower (and even if they did, fourth amount to very much the same thing), there’s little motivation.

Among all the teams that are battling for European spots, Levante will be the shock biggest achievers in a season that has seen the Valencia-based minors rub shoulders with the best of the division in the top five from day one.

A place in Europe for a club that operates on possibly the thinnest budgets in La Liga will be a wonderful achievement, but whether this stunning success helps or affects them in terms of strained resources, we shall only find out next season, when they add European nights to their schedule.

Levante’s miracle run that at one stage saw them lead the table and then move into second for a couple of weeks, ended more than three months ago. No one expects them to stay there. Only they have stayed there, how, even themselves could struggle to find the answer.

For the first 15 consecutive weeks they occupied a Champions League place; not so much because they played the most eye-catching football or anything like or even score goals for fun but for doing the basic of game and leave the rest to take care of itself—and it seems as though everything is working to plan.

 

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