Madrid : , May 12 (IANS) Following a week-and-a-half-break, the Spanish La Liga return to action this weekend and a new champion could be crowned on Sunday night.
FC Barcelona enter Matchday 34 holding a huge lead at the top of the standings, so much so that they could mathematically clinch the title and they could do so in the Barcelona Derby. No matter what, second-placed AtlÃ©tico de Madrid or third-placed Real Madrid do in their own matches, one more Barca win would be enough.
Before that hugely significant Barcelona Derby, the round begins in the Balearic Islands on Friday night as RCD Mallorca host CÃ¡diz CF. The away side is very much involved in the tight relegation battle and will hope their attacking talent can find a way through the solid RCD Mallorca back five.
Four matches follow on Saturday, the first of which is Real Sociedad vs Girona FC. This is a duel between two teams currently inside the European qualification positions, as Real Sociedad are fourth and Girona FC are seventh. Given the result of the Copa del Rey final, which was won by Real Madrid, seventh is now a Conference League ticket and the Catalan club hopes to hold on to it.
Osasuna just lost that Copa del Rey final, but they too could qualify for Europe so they’ll hope to bounce back at home to AlmerÃa. Given the effort displayed by Jagoba Arrasate’s side in the final in Seville, a tremendous reception can be expected by the fans at El Sadar.
The European battle then continues when Villarreal welcome Athletic Club to the east coast. These are two more teams that are seeking continental football next season and the home side will be buoyed by the return from injury of star striker Gerard Moreno. Nicolas Jackson has been in fine form in his absence, scoring four in his past three games, so Villarreal CF might start with both upfront.
Real Madrid will be in action at the BernabÃ©u on Saturday night, hosting a Getafe side who are third-bottom but who will travel across Spain’s capital with confidence following the return of JosÃ© BordalÃ¡s as a coach and the 1-0 victory he leads his team to over Celta in Matchday 33.
RC Celta will then look to bounce back from that defeat when they return to action in the first game of Sunday, hosting Valencia in Vigo. If RC Celta aren’t careful, they too could slip into the relegation battle, so a big turnout is expected to cheer the team on at the Estadio Abanca BalaÃdos.
Elche vs AtlÃ©tico de Madrid is next up and the home side has already been mathematically relegated. This, though, is still an attractive game for the fans at the Estadio Manuel MartÃnez Valero to enjoy as they take on one of the best sides in Europe right now, with Atleti having won nine of their past 10 matches as Antoine Griezmann continues his stellar form.
On Sunday evening, JosÃ© Luis Mendilibar takes his Sevilla FC side to visit Real Valladolid, one of his many former clubs. Although Sevilla FC’s recent change of coach has seen them climb away from the drop zone, Real Valladolid are still very much under threat and their new boss, Paulo Pezzolano, will hope to end a run of three consecutive defeats.
Then on Sunday night, the 176th Barcelona Derby in the history of La Liga will be played. And, it could be a very special one as Barca look to clinch the title at the RCDE Stadium, the home of their rivals.
But, they’ll find a very motivated opponent, as Los Pericos won’t want to see their rivals celebrating on their turf, while they have their own desperate need for the three points, since they’re currently penultimate in the standings. There may be fireworks to celebrate a league title, while fireworks are guaranteed too on the pitch as these two foes do battle.
In the second fixture on Monday night, Real Betis meet Rayo Vallecano with a lot on the line. Los Verdiblancos are currently in contention for Europa League spots, and the team from the capital, who are currently ninth, would like to join them. Their star man Isi PalazÃ³n just signed a new contract until 2028 and will look to keep up his bright form in this first fixture since that renewal.