The La Liga title race could be over by the end of Week 36, with the pressure very much on the chasing duo of Barcelona and Real Madrid to keep in touch with leaders Atletico.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico side are still coming down from the inevitable high that was beating Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday. They must come down to earth quickly, though, as they face a potentially tricky trip to Levante on Sunday afternoon.
Barcelona are the hot favourites in their home clash with Getafe, but there is plenty to do for Real Madrid, who must play twice this week. Carlo Ancelotti’s side host Valencia on Sunday evening and then face a trip to Real Valladolid on Wednesday. Although they would be expected to win both games, with Champions League commitments, the schedule has not been kind to los Meringues.
The fourth Champions League spot is currently filled by Athletic Bilbao, and barring a bizarre turn of events, they will remain there come the end of the season. The Basque side travel to take on Rayo Vallecano in the first game of Week 36 on Friday night.
At the wrong end of the table, Almeria have the chance to escape the relegation zone when they take on basement club Real Betis. Osasuna also have the opportunity to move away from the drop zone when they face Celta de Vigo at home.
Elsewhere, Malaga host Elche on Saturday evening, and Sevilla play Villarreal the following night. On Monday, Granada travel to Real Sociedad, still with an outside chance of relegation.
|Rayo Vallecano||Athletic Bilbao||0-1|
|Osasuna||Celta de Vigo||1-1|
|Real Valladolid||Real Madrid||0-2|
Levante v Atletico Madrid
The form book makes pretty useful reading ahead of this one. While Levante have won just one of their last eight games, Atletico have prospered in every one of theirs. There is little to suggest this one will not go exactly as expected on Sunday evening.
The only thing working in Levante’s favour is the fact that the league leaders may be struggling with fatigue after two intense Champions League ties with Chelsea in the last two weeks. However, club captain Gabi will return from suspension to give the side fresh impetus, while the likes of Diego and David Villa also did not feature at Stamford Bridge.
The motivation does not get any bigger for Atletico, though. Victory at Levante will put them just one away from their first La Liga title since 1996.
Levante away, Malaga home. Two wins and Atletico will be champions— Filippo Ricci (@filippomricci) April 27, 2014
Real Madrid v Valencia
There could be an issue with fatigue in this one for Valencia. They take on Sevilla on Thursday night for a place in the Europa League final, which is hardly great preparation for a trip to Madrid on Sunday. Carlo Ancelotti will also still have designs on the league title and will be desperate to capitalise on any slip-up from Atleti.
Real have a nearly fully fit squad to choose from, and they may well unleash all their star men on Valencia on Sunday. The confidence will be flowing through the team after their thrashing of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, and they should pick up another comfortable win at the weekend.
Valencia’s season has tailed off quite badly, with just one win in their last six putting an end to hopes of European football next year. With little to play for, they should not put up much resistance against the Copa del Rey winners.