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Monday May 15 2017
What we learned from La Liga Week 37

Just one weekend of the La Liga season remains.  David Peters reflects on the penultimate round of action and draws five conclusions.

1. Real Madrid have cleared their biggest hurdle

It was far from easy in the first half and the 4-1 final score surely flatters them, but Real Madrid managed to see off the threat of Sevilla on Sunday evening to move even closer to the title. They now just need to defeat Celta Vigo on Wednesday and Malaga next weekend to claim the trophy and they can breathe a sigh of relief now that their biggest hurdle has been cleared. Although the Celta and Malaga matches are both away from home, Real Madrid’s clash with Sevilla was still the toughest one they had remaining, so Zinedine Zidane will be thrilled to have crossed that fixture off his list.

2. The bottom three simply weren’t good enough

The relegation race won’t go down to the final day after all. Leganes and Deportivo La Coruna both drew to send Sporting Gijon down, even though the Asturian side won away at Eibar. They join Osasuna and Granada in having been mathematically relegated already and the truth is that this year’s bottom three simply weren’t good enough. Had Sporting pulled themselves out of trouble at the last gasp then it would have been an incredible story, but it might also have been a little harsh on Lega and Depor, who have both been more consistent and more competitive this season, as evidenced by their far superior goal differences. It is very fair that Osasuna, Granada and Sporting are the three teams to go down this year.

3. Koke’s right, this has been a successful season for Atletico

With their hard-fought 1-1 draw away at Real Betis, Atletico Madrid wrapped up automatic qualification for the 2017-18 Champions League group stages. After the match, Koke discussed Los Rojiblancos’ season as a whole and insisted that their top-three finish, coupled with Champions League and Copa del Rey semi-final exits at the hands of giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona made this a year to proud of. He’s right. Although expectations have been set higher after Atleti’s title-winning year of 2013-14, it is still something to be proud of for them to come this close to further silverware. They continue to compete and should be pleased by that.

4. Real Betis have a bright future, if they can find the right coach

One thing which was evident as Atletico took on Real Betis on Sunday night was just how rejuvenated Los Verdiblancos looked by the sacking of Victor Sanchez del Amo. Interim coach Alexis Trujillo immediately scrapped the back five that his predecessor had been using and the team played some of their best football of the season. There is clearly a talented squad there and 20-year-old Dani Ceballos is ready to showcase his skills next season. If the club can just hire the right Coach, one with a progressive approach, then big things should be expected from the green-and-white half of Seville. 

5. Basque football’s success has been the story of the season

There are four Basque teams in the top nine of the La Liga table after Alaves won again and the team from Vitoria-Gasteiz will also contest their first Copa del Rey final later this season, which is testament to the strength in depth of Basque football. It was also telling that Athletic and Real Sociedad were battling it out for the final Europa League spot on Sunday evening, while Eibar’s campaign has been another fairy tale story and they remain in eighth place. For a region of Spain with a population of just over two million to have four of the top nine teams in the country is simply incredible. 

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