LaLiga’s Matchday 36 preview

It is as tight as ever at the top of LaLiga Santander, with just two points separating the top three: Atlético de Madrid on 77 points, and Real Madrid and FC Barcelona trailing close behind on 75 each. Sevilla FC, on 71 points, aren’t entirely out of the picture yet either.  

Following a thrilling weekend of top-of-the-table drama, Spanish football fans won’t have to wait much longer for their next dose of action with a round of midweek action coming up this week. It’ll take place across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with one of the top three in action each evening.  

It’s Barça who are up first as they’ll play on Tuesday, but before their game CA Osasuna host Cádiz CF at 7pm CEST, a duel between two teams who mathematically confirmed their survival over the weekend. Then, at 8pm CEST, Elche CF and D. Alavés face off in a relegation six-pointer between two clubs whose top-flight status is very much in the balance. Elche could leapfrog their opponents with a win and that’s what they’ll set out to do in their home stadium.  

Then, at 10pm CEST on Tuesday night, FC Barcelona visit Levante UD at the Estadi Ciutat de València. No team has a worse record over the past month than Levante’s run of four defeats and one draw, but they have often caused Barça problems in the past and have won three of their past four home matches against the Catalan club. The Granotas have already earned victories over Barça’s title rivals this season and they’ll be hoping for another scalp here.  

On Wednesday, the midweek round continues and Sevilla FC will look to keep their faint title chances alive when they host Valencia CF at 7pm CEST. Their first clash this season also took place in a midweek round, with Sevilla winning 1-0 on that occasion. Another similar result would suit them perfectly this matchday.  

Two fixtures kick off at the same time at 8pm CEST on Wednesday: RC Celta vs Getafe CF and SD Huesca vs Athletic Club. These are two matches between a relegation-threatened side and a team still chasing European qualification; Celta and Athletic need victories if they are to have a chance of playing on the continent next year, while their opponents simply hope they’ll remain in Spain’s top tier.  

At 10pm CEST, the title race continues as leaders Atlético de Madrid welcome Real Sociedad to the Wanda Metropolitano in the Spanish capital. Atleti know that they are guaranteed the title if they win their three remaining games, but Diego Simeone is only going “partido a partido” – “game by game.” The Argentine coach will have his players focused solely on the task at hand, which is defeating a La Real side that are capable of beating anyone on their day.  

Three more games follow on Thursday and the first, at 7pm CEST, is another duel between a team involved in the race for Europe and a team firmly in the middle of the survival scrap. Villarreal CF are into this season’s Europa League final, but they’re still not guaranteed a spot in Europe for next season, so it’s this trip to face Real Valladolid that will be their focus for now. The Pucela, as the team one position above the relegation zone, need points too and will take encouragement from the fact that they’ve lost just once at home to Villarreal in 14 total matches.  

At 8pm CEST, SD Eibar host Real Betis in yet another clash between a relegation-threatened team and a European hopeful. Eibar, despite being bottom of the standings, can go into this game with confidence having won their past two matches and the memory of their 2-0 win over Betis earlier this season fresh in their minds.  

Their record against the Andalusians has been excellent over the years, with five wins, four draws and just two defeats across their 11 meetings since promotion to LaLiga Santander in 2014.  

For the third night in a row, there is a key title race fixture at 10pm CEST, with Thursday’s late game seeing Granada CF hosting Real Madrid. While Los Blancos will be the favourites, Granada can never be ruled out as they’ve achieved so much under Diego Martínez and threw a spanner in the works just two Thursdays ago with a surprise win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou. An entertaining game should now be expected as the Andalusian side look to take more points off a title challenger.  

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