Table Watch: Week 24

Look, every time Sevilla wins, it’s good. It feels like a minor miracle. There should maybe be parades. But Friday’s win was particularly great because of a bunch of other results involving teams above them on the table. First, Levante drew with Sociedad, which is great because they’re both ahead of us on the table, and both dropped points. And Rayo lost to Real Madrid, which is also great because Rayo is one of the teams between us and Europa. And THEN Betis went and lost to Espanyol, which is great because ditto the whole Europa thing but also: BETIS LOST. Mmm, it’s delicious every time I say it. Anyway, all those results mean we moved up to 10th today, and that got me thinking about our status on the table, and before I knew it I was conjecturing, imagining, dreaming, and guessing about a LOT of things. And then I had a big old post. So if you enjoy reading lots of mostly baseless speculation in order to arrive at the conclusion that Sevilla would do well to win points from the games they play, WELL THEN READ ON!

As I look at the table, I see Levante 2 points ahead of Sevilla in 9th place with at least 3 more Europa matches to play (2/21, and then next round 3/7 and 14 barring a midweek Grecian miracle) and maybe not quite the legs to sustain two competitions as we near the final stretch of La Liga. Given that after Barca this weekend Sevilla play 3 of the bottom 4 teams in La Liga before visiting Estadio Ciutat on 3/31, it seems likely to me that we’ll at least be playing to overtake them that day. Oh yeah, and then they host Barca and Real Madrid 1 and 3 weeks after playing us.

Next up, Betis are sitting in 8th, 4 points ahead. Our visit to the Lopera isn’t until 4/14, and Betis has a kinda tough schedule between now and then: nothing super scary, but not a lot of pushovers, either. In the next 4 weeks they’ll face 3 of the 4 teams directly above them, including Malaga (4th), Valencia (5th), and Real Sociedad (6th). That’s especially concerning for them because they’ve sort of run into a patch of terrible form: 0 goals and 0 points in their last 4 games, and only 5 goals and 7 points since returning from Christmas break. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff as you enter the hardest month left on your schedule. So either they’ll drop some points in the next month, or a whole bunch of other people in front of us will…or both. Either way, the return leg of our 5–1 stompdown earlier this season will likely represent an opportunity to continue to capitalize on other teams’ trouble, and hopefully move up the table. Oh yeah, and then these guys also play Barca and RM 1 and 3 weeks after playing us.

We’ve already played Rayo twice this year, and got 4 points for our troubles. And yet they’re still 3 spots above us, in 7th, and 5 points ahead of us. Nothing in particular stands out in their schedule; they have a good balance of tough games and easier ones. Frankly, I think Rayo will be their own limiting factor, and I’m just not sure if they’re good enough to hold on to a meaningful position in the last 2 months of the season. But, you know, prove me wrong, guys!

Finally, Real Sociedad is having the kind of fantastic year that I’d be super happy about for them if they were not ahead of us: 6th in table (good for you guys!), but 5 points ahead of Sevilla (#$% you guys!!!). We play them at home 5/19 on Matchday 36, and obviously whatever speculation I have now will be irrelevent by the time that game is played. I’d say they have the toughest part of their schedule left to play, though: Betis, at Atletico, Malaga, Valencia, and Real Madrid are among their upcoming games. Frankly, it doesn’t look great for the Basques, but then I wouldn’t have put them at 6th place after 24 matches.

So what does all this mean? While I don’t see 1–5 on the table going anywhere, I definitely think there are enough points yet to be lost by the teams above Sevilla that it’s reasonable to hope that our heroes could make it into European competition by some way other than the back door of the Copa. Obviously a huge part of that hinges on getting max points from the aforementioned easier games (Mallorca, Celta, and Zaragoza) that immediately follow our visit to the Camp Nou. After those games we have Levante (A), Bilbao (H), Betis (A), and Atletico (H) all in a row, and our last 4 weeks include Malaga (A) and Valencia (H). That’s…a lot of really good teams yet to play. I’m thinking we could be within a point of or even in a European spot in a month, and then really struggling to hold on to it for the last 2 months.

What do you guys think? Any predictions, either for Sevilla or for the rest of the table?