Saturday, May 21, 2022

La Liga reaches climax as teams battle for continental tickets

With so much still on the line between now and the end of the LaLiga Santander season, teams will battle like never before to finish the season on a high.

• May 9, 2022
La Liga
La Liga logo

The 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season has entered its final straight, with over half the teams in the top tier still with something on the line between now and the end of the season, be it a European spot or avoiding relegation to LaLiga SmartBank, one of world football’s most competitive second tiers.

LaLiga Santander has in recent seasons shown itself to be Europe’s most competitive league from top to bottom – nine of the division’s 20 clubs have won a major trophy since 2019 – with thrills, spills, and last-gasp goals week in, week out. The season run-in promises to be as hard-fought and close as this track record suggests, and LaLiga has launched a campaign under the slogan “If it’s happened before, it can happen again,” to remind fans what they’re in for between now and the final day. The campaign features two 30-second and 60-second spots which will be promoted on LaLiga’s digital channels between now and the end of the season.

The race for Europe behind the newly crowned champions Real Madrid is well and truly on, with all the remaining Champions League and Europa League spots still on the line. Xavi Hernandez’s FC Barcelona have recovered from a slow start to sit in pole position for a second-place finish, beating Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu in the process, ahead of Sevilla FC and Atlético de Madrid just two and three points behind in third and fourth place, respectively.

And while these three sides currently occupy the Champions League qualification spots, free-flowing Real Betis, – who have already wrapped up a European spot thanks to their Copa del Rey win just a couple of weeks ago – 2020 Copa del Rey champions Real Sociedad and Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal CF lie just a few points behind, within striking distance of a top four spot between now and the end of the season.

With many of these sides set to meet in direct clashes over this weekend’s Matchday 35 – which features the Madrid Derby, among other blockbuster fixtures which see six of the top seven battle face off – and Matchday 38, the race for Europe will go down to the wire.

Down at the other end of the table, meanwhile, it’s all still to be decided in the battle against relegation; with four matches remaining, no side is mathematically down. Levante UD, Deportivo Alaves and Granada CF currently occupy the bottom spots, but all three have hopes of leapfrogging RCD Mallorca, Cadiz CF, and Getafe CF, three sides who still aren’t safe from the threat of relegation.

It’s all still to be decided on an individual level too. While Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has all but wrapped up the Pichichi trophy for the top scorer in LaLiga Santander with the perhaps the best season of any striker in European football, the Zamora and Zarra awards for the top goalkeeper and top scoring Spanish player in the division are still anything but a foregone conclusion. Sevilla FC goalkeeper Bono is currently the favourite to win his first Zamora trophy with an average of just 0.79 goals conceded per game, but close behind are Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal CF) and Alex Remiro (Real Sociedad) and ahead of the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jan Oblak, showcasing the depth of world-class talent between the sticks in LaLiga Santander.

With so much still on the line between now and the end of the LaLiga Santander season, teams will battle like never before to finish the season on a high. You won’t want to miss it.

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