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Monday May 1 2017
What we learned from La Liga Week 35

The top teams all won and the bottom ones didn’t. David Peters discusses the main talking points of the La Liga weekend.

It may not have been Sergio Ramos finding the back of the net late on, yet Real Madrid were still able to salvage some late points. Dani Parejo’s free-kick in the 82nd minute of Valencia’s trip to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu seemed to have kicked the title race even further into gear, yet Marcelo popped up with a clever low finish in the 86th minute to retake Real Madrid’s lead and to secure a 2-1 win. That took Los Blancos tally of points earned in the final 10 minutes of this season’s matches to 17 and if they do indeed win the league their late dramatics will be the main reason behind their success.

Real Madrid can afford to draw once and they would still win La Liga if they win their other matches three matches. Yet Barcelona are determined to push them all the way and pile the pressure on their title rivals right until the end. It may have required a defensive error to break the deadlock in the Catalan derby last Saturday night, but once Barcelona went ahead they did not look back and they increased their lead, ultimately winning 3-0. This away trip to city rivals Espanyol was potentially their trickiest fixture left, so the fact they’ve overcome it suggests the pressure will well and truly be on Real Madrid.

After years of avoiding relegation in the final few weeks, Levante were eventually relegated last season. However, they’ve already sealed their promotion back to La Liga, showing that it is sometimes a benefit to drop down and to rethink. For Granada, however, there is far less confidence that they’ll secure a bounce-back promotion after their relegation to the second tier was mathematically confirmed this weekend. Tony Adams may not have had much impact as a Coach, but that was never supposed to be his main role. Instead, he is tasked with rebuilding the squad and that could be incredibly difficult at Granada. They need an overhaul in the summer and they might not be back straight away. This club could require some time to heal.

As if it wasn’t bad enough for Atletico Madrid that their two natural right-backs Juanfran and Sime Vrsaljko were both injured, their situation got even worse during last weekend’s otherwise fruitful 5-0 win away at Las Palmas. That’s because Jose Maria Gimenez, who had been filling in well on the right side of defence, has now suffered an injury too. With a Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid coming up on Tuesday, this is a major blow and leaves Diego Simeone with an unwanted puzzle to solve and damages their chances of winning the Champions League outright.

While Eibar is not an easy place for team to go, Leganes will have left the Basque Country on Sunday night feeling that they could have done more. They fell to a limp 2-0 defeat and failed to truly test the home goalkeeper Yoel Rodriguez. Although they have a six point gap to Sporting Gijon in the relegation race, the capital city side cannot just hope to win survival through a Sporting slip-up, especially considering that the Asturians host the division’s worst away team Las Palmas and a Real Betis side with little left to play for, as well as their own trip to Eibar. Leganes also take on Betis, as well as Athletic and Alaves, but they must aim for another victory in those fixtures, rather than hope their rivals stumble.  

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