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Title, relegation and European drama: The La Liga’s D-day threatens to be chaotic and exciting

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Title, relegation and European drama: The La Liga’s D-day threatens to be chaotic and exciting

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Siddhant Lazar

05/22/2021

There’s absolutely nothing like the final day of a league season but when this is the closest title race in 15 years and a superb relegation battle, it makes La Liga’s final day even better. Especially when you add in the fact that the two Madrid rivals are battling it out for the title on D-day.

Welcome to La Liga, where style and panache meet chaos and balletic football at times which has been the case for many a year. This is the league where the style flourishes but at the same time where grit and guts are more than required to win yourself glory. This is Spain’s top tier and their 2020/21 season, like most, has been utterly crazy, chaotic and just downright insane.

But things have somewhat settled down although not so much where we miss out on some D-day drama because there are lots. The Champions League places and one relegation spot are the only things that are settled with the Europa League, the other two relegation spots…..and oh yeah, the title left in contention. They didn’t make this easy with a few permutations and combinations available but then again if they did, where’s the fun in that? Let’s get cracking.

The Relegation Scenarios:

The relegation situation was made slightly less complicated by Eibar’s loss to Valencia last weekend because it meant that they could no longer overtake Elche on H2H. That proves to be a big difference because the La Liga’s method for relegation if points are level, it goes H2H (head to head) results, then goal-difference and then goals scored. That doesn’t make things any easier btw especially when you’ve three sides battling it out for one spot.

For SD Huesca (17th with 33 points) to survive:

Now Huesca sit 17th on the table with 33 points and a goal difference (GD) of -19. For them, it’s quite literally very simple because should they win, then the other two sides are relegated. They battle Valencia on the final day which does make their job slightly harder although a draw will be enough to relegate Real Valladolid but for that, Huesca will need Elche to lose in order to survive.

A loss for Huesca though and things become dicey for them. Then to survive they’ll need to see both Valladolid and Elche lose or nothing. No other possibility will see Huesca survive.

For Elche CF (18th with 33 points) to survive:

Elche sit right below Huesca and are level on points but sit behind on H2H having lost to them in the second game between the two sides. That means anything less than them winning and a Huesca loss or a draw will relegate Elche from the La Liga. It gets a little complicated, in case Huesca lose, because then it comes down to between Elche and Real Valladolid.

For Elche to survive, since the H2H between them and Real Valladolid stands level, they’ll need Valladolid to either lose or draw while either a draw or a win against Athletic Club will be enough. But should Elche draw and Real Valladolid win, then they would be relegated because since the H2H is level, it goes down to GD and Valladolid have a slight advantage (-22) over Elche (-23).

For Real Valladolid (19th with 31 points) to survive:

This is very simple. Anything less than a win for Real Valladolid and they have no chance especially since they have 31 points to their name. However, they would also need both Huesca and Elche to lose to survive although Valladolid could make it through should they beat Atletico Madrid and should Elche either draw or lose their game and if Huesca loses.

That is because Huesca have the advantage when it comes to H2H over both Valladolid and Elche which means should all three sides end up on 34 points, then Huesca survive. For Real Valladolid, they need to win and hope that Huesca loses and Elche doesn’t get more than a point. Because then, as mentioned above, with the H2H between Valladolid and Elche level, GD comes into play and Valladolid are slightly better on that mark.

The La Liga title scenarios:

Title, title. There are only two title races left to decide with Inter Milan, Manchester City and Bayern Munich winning in their leagues but this could have been wrapped up so much earlier. Unfortunately, Atletico Madrid tried to be funny and add a little drama which means the La Liga title race goes down to the final day with two sides battling it out.

For Atletico Madrid (1st with 83 points) to win:

A spirited comeback in their last game means that Atletico Madrid go into the final day above Real Madrid by two points but for them, this is very very very simple. A win over Real Valladolid on D-day guarantees them the title, no matter what happens with Real Madrid’s game. A draw could also see them clinch the title but that’s only if Zinedine Zidane's men also draw or lose their game.

For Real Madrid (2nd with 81 points) to win:

However, a Real Madrid win and an Atletico Madrid draw would see the title go to the Santiago Bernabeu because of the Los Blancos’ better H2H record. That’s right, the same rules as relegation applies here but for Zinedine Zidane, anything less than a win is not enough. They need to beat Villarreal on D-day and hope that Atletico Madrid either draw or lose their game. It’s literally that simple.

The Europa League scenarios:

All three sides below will be guaranteed European football next season but Villarreal are in the weird spot of not knowing whether they could be playing Europa League footy or European Conference league footy. And to make things even more complicated, Villarreal play in the Europa League final four days later which could see them playing Champions League football. 

For Real Sociedad (5th with 59 points):

A win for Real Sociedad will move them onto 62 points and confirm their status in next season’s Europa League group stages. They will also make it if they draw against Osasuna but only if Real Betis and Villarreal also drop points in their fixtures as well. Furthermore, they could also qualify if they lose their game on the final day but only if one of Villarreal or Betis win.

For Real Betis (6th with 58 points):

With Real Betis one point behind Real Sociedad, they’ll need to beat Celta Vigo on D-day to confirm their place in the Europa League but only if Villarreal lose or draw. That is because Betis have the advantage in the H2H (Head to Head) having beaten Unai Emery’s side. A win for both Villarreal and Betis will also confirm their Europa League status should Real Sociedad lose.

Furthermore, Betis could qualify for the tournament with a draw against Celta Vigo but only if Villarreal matches their result because of the H2H. 

For Villarreal (7th with 58 points): 

Unai Emery does have a tough decision to make because his side play Real Madrid on the final day and then four days later, they play the Europa League final. However, let’s get to their chances in the league first because a win on the D-day would secure their place in the Europa League. But in order for that to happen, they will need Real Betis to drop points because a Betis win would put them level on points and send them into 6th place based on H2H.

Villarreal though could potentially leap into 5th place as well should they beat Real Madrid on the final day and should both Real Sociedad and Real Betis drop points. But all of that won’t matter if Emery’s side wins the Europa League because they will then qualify for the Champions League. It would mean that Spain will have no representatives in the Europa Conference League but even if they do lose the final and their final game, then they’ll still have the Europa Conference League.

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