Winners, losers, thrills and spills: here’s all you need to know about the final week of the LaLiga Santander season.
The title race: Atlético de Madrid are champions for an 11th time
The 2020/21 LaLiga Santander title race went down to the final moments of the final day on Saturday, with Atleti visiting Real Valladolid and Real Madrid hosting Villarreal. The two capital city sides were vying for the title, but both fell behind on the day before producing comebacks to earn 2-1 wins. That ensured Atleti narrowly won the championship by two points, with the Rojiblancos presented with the trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday. They’ve now conquered Spain’s top division for an 11th time.
Champions League qualification: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla will join Atleti
Coming into the final day, we already knew that Atlético de Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla would be Spain’s four Champions League representatives, but we didn’t know the order. With Barcelona and Sevilla both winning 1-0, against Eibar and Alavés respectively, there was no change and Barça finish third ahead of Sevilla in fourth. The Andalusian club’s haul of 77 points is a club record for them.
The Europa League duo: Real Sociedad and Real Betis
Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal were separated by just one point as they entered the final weekend, with fifth and sixth guaranteeing a Europa League spot. Villarreal’s defeat at Real Madrid meant they finished in seventh and that it’s Real Sociedad and Real Betis who’ll be representing Spain in UEFA’s second-tier competition.
Spain’s first Conference League contestant: Villarreal will make history, unless…
Seventh place means that Villarreal are the first Spanish side to qualify for UEFA’s new Conference League competition. But, the Yellow Submarine could still qualify for the Champions League if they win this year’s Europa League final on Wednesday night against Manchester United. In that scenario, Spain would have five Champions League teams next year and no Conference League participant.
The relegation battle: Huesca and Real Valladolid go down with Eibar
Eibar’s relegation down to LaLiga SmartBank was confirmed in the penultimate round, before Huesca and Real Valladolid failed to get the results they needed in the final round, meaning they are going down to the second tier too. Elche beat Athletic Club 2-0 to avoid the drop on the final day, a huge achievement considering they had come up through the playoffs last year.
Automatic promotion: Espanyol and RCD Mallorca come straight back up
Even though there is still a week to go in LaLiga SmartBank, RCD Espanyol and RCD Mallorca have already secured promotion, just a year after they were relegated. Led by new coaches, they’ve been the best two sides all year and will welcome the stars of LaLiga Santander to their stadiums again next season.
The LaLiga SmartBank playoffs: Five teams fight for the four spots
The final LaLiga Santander place for the 2021/22 season will be decided in the LaLiga SmartBank playoffs. The teams who finish between third and sixth will fight it out in the playoffs, with CD Leganés, Almería UD, Girona FC and R. Sporting currently in pole position. However, sixth-placed Sporting are level on points with seventh-placed Rayo Vallecano, who could still make it into the playoffs.
Promotion into professional football: Real Sociedad’s B team make the leap
The third-tier playoffs were held over the weekend, with Burgos, Amorebieta, Ibiza and Real Sociedad B team coming out on top to reach LaLiga SmartBank. Each of these clubs brings an interesting angle and a unique history to the professional level, with the Real Sociedad youngsters the first reserve team to reach this level since Sevilla B in 2018.