The Race for Fourth – La Liga

After what turned out to be a pretty disastrous weekend that failed to ensure we closed the gap on the final Champions League spot, I thought now would be a good time to take some stock of our rivals’ current situations, current form, and impending run-ins.

With the top 3 pretty much a certainty now (or even top 1) the focus in La Liga is now partly on who will get relegated and who will finish in the European spots, specifically the Champions League places.

So here is some research on our rivals for that much coveted 4th and final place – all of which have, like us, played 25 games and have 13 games remaining (or to put it another way, 66% of the season played, 33% still to play)

Villareal

Villareal

Points: 49 (+8 more than Sevilla with 41)

Goals scored: 30 (6 behind Sevilla with 36)

Goals conceded: 18 (+8 more than Sevilla with 26)

Goal difference: +12 (+2 more than Sevilla with +10)

Season So Far:

The famous ‘Yellow Submarine’ have, for a team of their stature, had an excellent season once again, and are still flying (sailing?) much higher than many expected. They are currently better than us in every way except goals scored, which hopefully may prove to be their undoing.

They are the favourites to finish 4th though, and did their cause no harm at all with a well earned point away to Atletico Madrid tonight. Thanks in part to a well organised defence (are you taking notes Emery) and the fine form of ex-Sevillista Denis Suarez, they are now only 5 points behind Real Madrid! It would be maybe pushing it a bit too far to suggest they could break into the top three however.

Recent Form:

Their form in the last 5 games has been identical to our own (Won 2 drawn 3 lost 0)

Run-in:

J26: Levante (H)

J27: Celta Vigo (A)

J28: Las Palmas (H)

J29: Sevilla (A)

J30: Barcelona (H)

J31: Eibar (A)

J32: Getafe (H)

J33: Rayo Vallecano (A)

J34: Real Madrid (A)

J35: Real Sociedad (H)

J36: Valencia (A)

J37: Deportivo La Coruña (H)

J38: Sporting Gijón (A)

Predictions:

There are definitely points to be dropped in the list above, with Real Madrid and Barcelona still to play, as well as a potentially tricky away ties at Celta Vigo and Eibar. They are also competing in the Europa League, and if they get past Napoli on Thursday night, this could put some strain on their squad. There could even be the possibility of another match up between our two clubs.

Regardless of European matches, the league game against us on March 13th could potentially have a massive say on who finishes on top between us, as anything other than a Sevilla win would probably prove to be the final nail in our coffin. Thankfully, it is at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, so we should have a better chance of victory, one would hope.


Celta Vigo

celta vigo rain

Points: 38 (3 behind Sevilla with 41)

Goals scored: 38 (+2 more than Sevilla with 36)

Goals conceded: 44 (18 more than Sevilla with 26)

Goal difference: -6 (16 behind Sevilla with +10)

Season So Far:

Celta raced into an incredible and unlikely lead at the beginning of the season, and despite a drop in form, are still in the race for fourth spot thanks to the points they amassed early on. It would be wrong to write them off as they have no european distractions and can focus fully on each league game from now to the end of the season. Perhaps the return of playmaker Nolito is the key to whether they can rediscover their early season magic or not. Certainly a team not be discounted just yet.

Recent League Form:

Their form in the last 5 games has been poor to say the least (Won 1 drawn 1 lost 3), with their only win coming in the last game week against Eibar at home (coincidentally coinciding with the return of Nolito).

Run-in:

J26: Getafe (A)

J27: Villareal (H)

J28: Real Madrid (A)

J29: Real Sociedad (H)

J30: Valencia (A)

J31: Deportivo La Coruña (H)

J32: Sporting Gijón (A)

J33: Real Betis (H)

J34: Espanyol (A)

J35: Granada (H)

J36: Athletic Club Bilbao (A)

J37: Malaga (H)

J38: Atletico Madrid (A)

Predictions:

With an easier run in than us and Villareal, Celta could still surprise many. Their recent form will need to improve though, and their next few games will be crucial in determining whether that are genuine contenders or not. One to keep an eye on for sure.


The others:

Eibar (36 points) and Athletic Bilbao (35 points) could mathematically still make a push for 4th but it would take an incredible run of form, coupled with capitulation from those around them, for either of them to do so, and therefore I am not currently including them as top 4 rivals.


Sevilla

sevilla man city

Our run-in:

J26: Barcelona (A)

J27: Eibar (H)

J28: Getafe (A)

J29: Villareal (H)

J30: Real Madrid (A)

J31: Real Sociedad (H)

J32: Valencia (A)

J33: Deportivo La Coruña (H)

J34: Sporting Gijón (A)

J35: Real Betis (H)

J36: Espanyol (A)

J37: Granada (H)

J38: Athletic Club Bilbao (A)

Predictions:

To put it simply, our visits to Barcelona and Real Madrid aside, if we don’t start winning away from home we will never be able to catch Villareal.

The game at home against them could be key, but that all depends on whether we can go to places like Getafe and Gijón and come away with the points. Not a huge ask surely? And if it turns out we cannot rise to those challenges then we really wouldn’t have deserved to have finished 4th anyway.

Competing in the Europa League will have its obvious drawbacks, as fatigue and rotation are likely, but to put all of our eggs into finishing 4th would be foolish, so rotation on a game by game basis will be the norm.


As always, thanks for reading, and your thoughts are greatly appreciated. Monchi’s Men thrives off of the community in which it is built, and win, lose, or draw, I for one am delighted to be a part of such a great community.

¡Vamos!


Also, please don’t forget about Rene’s post and poll here: http://monchismen.com/climbing-the-milk-crate-wtf-emery-poll/

Your thoughts on this important subject are greatly appreciated, so feel free to let us know what you think.

As ever, lots to discuss, and at least we can never complain that being a Sevilla supporter is boring 🙂