Competition news

TOUGH BATTLE FOR EUROPE

09 Mar 2010
In recent campaigns the fourth, fifth and sixth place have always involved interesting battles at this point of the season; it is normal to witness a narrow difference between the teams in contention, which is exactly what’s occurring right now.

The race for the fourth place, giving the last ticket to the Champions League, and for both tickets to the Europa League are more interesting than never before; Sevilla FC is currently fourth with 43 points after its defeat at Real Madrid (2-3), RCD Mallorca is fifth only by the goal difference, while Depor is sixth just two points behind the duo.

Athletic Bilbao is hoping to enter into the top six places as the Basques are seventh with 40 points, then Villarreal (33), Getafe (33), Atletico Madrid (31), Osasuna (31) and Sporting Gijón (31) have lost some stamina as all of them were unable to win on the weekend, but still alive in the European quest as a couple of victories will put them back on track.

And things could become more interesting on this weekend as there are three direct confrontations between the teams aspiring to Europe: Getafe Vs RCD Mallorca, Sporting Gijón Vs Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla FC Vs Deportivo; all of them matches that will be played on Saturday and that could increase the differences or in other case make things more tough.

But this narrowness isn’t a new thing, because on the past three seasons a similar situation was occurring, starting on the past season as Villarreal CD was fourth with 42 points after the first 25 matchdays, while four teams were chasing the Yellow Submarine tied with 39 points in the table: Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Malaga and Deportivo. In the end Atletico entered into the Champions League, while Villarreal and Valencia ended in the Europa League.

On the 2007/08 campaign after the first 25 games, Atletico Madrid was fourth with 41 points –the same number had by Depor now- and then there were five teams separated just by four points from the Madrilenians: Sevilla (39), RCD Espanyol (39), Racing (38), Almeria (36) and Valencia (35). At the end of that season, Atletico got the last ticket to the Champions League, while Sevilla and Racing achieved the UEFA Cup spots.

Same was the situation on the season 2006/07; at the time Valencia was third with 46 points after the first 25 matchdays, Real Madrid was fourth with 44, Real Zaragoza was fifth with 42, while Atletico Madrid and Recreativo Huelva were sixth and seventh with 40 points. At the end of that campaign, Real Madrid and Valencia went to the Champions League, while Zaragoza ended in the UEFA alongside Villarreal, team that overcame a seven-point difference with the sixth spot to end clinching the fifth place.

Curiously, Villarreal has now a similar gap with the sixth place occupied by Depor (eight-point difference), which invites to think that the Valencians aren’t discarded yet for the European positions, which also invited to think that the last tickets to Europe won’t be decided until the final matchdays.

ARCHIVE NEWS MARCH/09

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