WINDHOEK, APRIL 4 – The battle to finish fourth in Spain’s La Liga will be the central focus of back-to-back rounds over the next week.
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Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid will take up the top three places on the log, but fourth spot and the final berth in next season’s UEFA Champions League remains very much up for grabs.
Currently Getafe occupy the sought-after spot with 46 points, but they have Deportivo Alaves (44), Valencia (43) and Sevilla (43) looking to hunt them down in the nine remaining rounds of the 2018/19 season.
The key match in this battle will see Sevilla host Deportivo Alaves at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with both teams looking to bounce back from defeat: the former were narrowly beaten at home by Valencia this past weekend, while the latter suffered a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
Getafe have the advantage of occupying fourth place, but they do not have an easy week ahead of them. First up is a clash away to Espanyol on Tuesday, followed by a home game on Sunday against Athletic Bilbao – the Basque team could bring themselves into top-four contention with a win at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
At the top of the log, only three questions remain: by what margin will Barcelona win a second consecutive title; how many goals will Lionel Messi score this season; and which of the Madrid teams will claim the runners-up berth?
In regards to the first question, Barca currently enjoy a 10-point advantage with nine matches to play and will fancy their chances of extending their lead when they host Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday night in what is definitely the pick of this week’s games.
Secondly, Messi has been in sensational form throughout the season but of late he has been particularly brilliant: a brace of goals – one of which was an impudent ‘panenka’ direct from a free kick – took his tally to 31 league goals from 27 appearances as he inspired a 2-0 win over Espanyol last weekend.
Finally, should Barca get the better of Atletico (or at least avoid defeat) it would open the door for Real Madrid to move back into second spot. Zinedine Zidane’s side face a tricky game away to Valencia in midweek before hosting Eibar on Saturday.
Key match stats
Villarreal v Barcelona – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 41
Villarreal wins 8
Barcelona wins 24
Valencia v Real Madrid – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 55
Valencia wins 12
Real wins 30
Sevilla v Deportivo Alaves – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 15
Sevilla wins 7
Alaves wins 4
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 59
Barcelona wins 29
Atletico wins 15
La Liga fixtures, 2-7 April
All times CAT
Tuesday 2 April
19:30: Atletico Madrid v Girona – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
20:30: Espanyol v Getafe – LIVE on SS6 & Max360
21:30: Villarreal v Barcelona – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Wednesday 3 April
19:30: Athletic Bilbao v Levante – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
20:30: Eibar v Rayo Vallecano
20:30: Huesca v Celta de Vigo – LIVE on SS10, Max360 & SelGo2
21:30: Valencia v Real Madrid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Thursday 4 April
19:30: Sevilla v Deportivo Alaves – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
20:30: Leganes v Real Valladolid – LIVE on SS5
21:30: Real Sociedad v Real Betis – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Saturday 6 April
13:00: Girona v Espanyol – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
16:15: Real Madrid v Eibar – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
18:30: Rayo Vallecano v Valencia – LIVE on SS7 & SelGo4
20:45: Barcelona v Atletico Madrid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Sunday 7 April
12:00: Deportivo Alaves v Leganes – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
14:00: Getafe v Athletic Bilbao – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
16:15: Real Valladolid v Sevilla – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
18:30: Celta de Vigo v Real Sociedad – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
18:30: Levante v Huesca – LIVE on SS5
20:45: Real Betis v Villarreal – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4 – MultiChoice Namibia