Real Madrid need just two points from their remaining four matches to seal their 31st La Liga title after comfortably beating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at the Bernabeu on Sunday evening. Barcelona are in big danger of losing out on second place to Villarreal. The Catalans obviously had their minds on Tuesday’s return match with Manchester United and were easily beaten by Deportivo, while Villarreal won at Betis to move four points above Barça. At the bottom of the table Levante became the first team to be mathematically relegated after losing to Recreativo.
Guti returned to Madrid’s midfield and there was a rare start up front for Javier Saviola who had only started three league games before this weekend. Saviola responded with his third goal of the season after just 13 minutes, nipping in to score when Athletic keeper Armando failed to hold Robinho’s shot. Athletic had a great chance to equalize in the 37th minute whewn Gabriel Heinze was judged to have fouled Llorente in the area. However, Iker Casillas once again saved the day by stopping Garmendi’s penalty.
Madrid controlled the game better in the second half and two goals in three minutes from Robben and Higuain put the result beyond doubt. Madrid will be crowned Champions if they win next week at Osasuna or if Villarreal fail to win at home to Getafe. Madrid’s following home game will then be a big party and their opponents that day are none other than arch enemy Barcelona.
Barça rested Messi, Eto’o, Xavi, Abidal and Valdes for the Champions League and they were also without Iniesta and Milito who were suspended for their match at Deportivo. The contrast with their performance against Manchester United was enormous as Depor dominated from start to finish. Juan Manuel Pinto made a nervous debut in goal for Barça while players such as Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry gave very poor displays. Whatever the opposite of a fan club is, Henry has a growing one among Barça fans. Marquez was at fault with both Depor goals which came in the second half from Rodriguez and Pablo Amo. Click here for a full report on Deportivo-Barcelona.
A goal from Marcos Senna after 15 minutes was enough to earn Villarreal a 0-1 win at Betis which meant that Real Madrid were not proclaimed Champions this week. The win also puts Villarreal in with a tremendous chance of snatching second place from Barça which would mean automatic classification for next season’s Champions League.
Atletico Madrid stayed in fourth place after grabbing a 1-1 draw at Getafe. Albin put the locals in front after 13 minutes before Kun Agüero equalized befoe half time with his 16th goal of the season. Getafe nearly won it near the end but Leo Franco saved De La Red’s 84th minute penalty and both sides had to settle for a point. Getafe could still face relegation if they do not pick up points in the remaining games.
Racing Santander’s dreams of the Champions League next season suffered a blow when they lost 3-1 at Mallorca. Nunes put Mallorca in front at the start of the second half and Trejo made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute. Duscher pulled one back for Racing from the penalty spot to give Racing hope but Güiza put the result beyond doubt a minute from the end with his 22nd goal of the season. The three points mean that Mallorca are now almost certainly safe from relegation.
Definitely relegated, however, are Levante whose fate was sealed with a 2-0 defeat at Recreativo in the Nuevo Colombino. Martin and Camuñas scored first half goals to give the Andalucian team a much needed victory which takes them out of the bottom three.
Zaragoza slip into the relegation zone despite gaining a 1-1 draw at Espanyol. The result means Espanyol are now unlikely to make a Uefa Cup place next season. Riera scored Espanyol’s first goal in five matches to put the locals in front but Oliveira equalized with six minutes to go to earn Zaragoza a point which may not be enough to save them.
Valencia responded well to the sacking of Ronald Koeman last week and soundly beat Osasuna 3-0 at Mestalla to ease their relegation worries. The referee helped in a big way by awarding a penalty and sending off Osasuna keeper Ricardo in the 19th minute. David Villa scored from the penalty and second half goals from Mata and Joaquin sealed an important win for the home team. Meanwhile Osasuna find themselved back in great danger of going down.
Jonathon Sesma scored a vital 92nd minute goal to give Valladolid a 1-0 victory over Almeria. The win takes Valladolid a step closer to safety while Almeria’s possibilities of getting into next season’s Uefa Cup were seriously diminished. Man of the match was Valladolid’s goalkeeper Asenjo who kept his team in the game with some fine saves.
Finally Murcia and Sevilla drew 0-0 in an uninspiring game that did neither side much good. Sevilla see their European chances under threat while Murcia really needed a victory to maintain any hope of survival.
Top Six: Real Madrid 75, Villarreal 65, Barcelona 61, Atletico Madrid 55, Racing Santander 53, Sevilla 52.
Bottom Six: Valencia 42, Recreativo 40, Osasuna 40, Zaragoza 38, Murcia 30, Levante 25.
Top Scorers: Luis Fabiano (Sevilla) 23, Güiza (Mallorca) 22, Raul (Real Madrid)17, Agüero (Atletico Madrid) 16, Nihat (Villarreal) 15.