MADRID. — “Nobody wants the Champions League”, ran the headlines after Sevilla, Valencia and Getafe all lost last weekend, but there will be little margin for error when Spanish La Liga football’s race for fourth place resumes this weekend.
Barcelona are champions, the big two Madrid clubs are certain to qualify, that leaves the last Spanish berth in the Champions League up for grabs.
Sevilla and Getafe are tied on 55 points, with Getafe in front on head-to-head.
Valencia are three points back and probably need to win all three of their remaining games to have any hope of snatching fourth. Valencia looked done on Sunday when a 1-0 defeat at home to Eibar gave their rivals the chance to move six points clear later that afternoon. “If they win, it will be almost impossible,” said defender Jose Gaya.
But Sevilla lost too, away at struggling Girona, and then so did Getafe, beaten by Real Sociedad to leave all three clubs in the same positions as where they started.
If anything, Valencia have perhaps the easiest run in. They play away at bottom-club Huesca today before hosting Alaves, who are winless in seven, and Real Valladolid, who are 18th and have scored fewer goals than any other team in the division. They also have an alternative route: winning the Europa League. They are also in the Copa del Rey final later this month against Barcelona.
Getafe, a club whose average attendance is below 10 000 and whose yearly wage bill stands at a little less than €40 million, are leading the Champions League race.
One place above them are Real Madrid, whose wage bill is close to €570 million.
Spanish La Liga Fixtures
Today: Levante v Rayo Vallecano (2pm), Espanyol v Atletico Madrid (5:15pm), Alaves v Real Sociedad (7:30pm), Celta Vigo v Barcelona (9:45pm)
Tomorrow: Getafe v Girona (1pm), Eibar v Real Betis (3pm), Real Madrid v Villarreal (5:15pm), Real Valladolid v Athletic Bilbao (7:30pm), Huesca v Valencia (9:45pm). — AFP.