Diego Simeone’s success

The Argentine has now won two LaLiga titles with the club as a coach, in addition to his first title as a player back in 1996. 

Before Diego Simeone was a LaLiga winning coach of the current warrior-like Atletico de Madrid team, the Argentine was also a fearsome midfielder who lifted many trophies including a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double with the rojiblanco outfit. 

A mobile, technical and aggressive box-to-box midfielder capable of stopping, starting and finishing moves, Simeone starred for over a decade in LaLiga, first with Sevilla and then in two different spells as an Atletico player. 

After coming through the ranks at Velez Sarsfield in his home country, Simeone played two seasons at Italian club AC Pisa before joining Sevilla in summer 1992. The super competitive 22-year-old quickly settled in the Andalusian capital, where his fellow Argentina international Diego Maradona and current Sevilla sporting director Monchi were teammates.  

Atletico legend Luis Aragones had a huge impact on Simeone when he arrived in Sevilla as coach in 1993, and also played a role in the midfielder moving to the Vicente Calderon club a year later, having hit 12 goals in 64 LaLiga appearances for his first Spanish club. 

Simeone arrived at a team in transition, with his battling qualities coming to the fore in a relegation struggle, and a goal back at his former club Sevilla on the final day of the season was crucial in helping keep the team in the top flight. 

12 months later Simeone also scored on the last day of the campaign, but in very different circumstances. A new-look Atletico team coached by Radomir Antic roared to the 1995-96 LaLiga title, with goalkeeper Jose Molina, defender Santi Denia and forward Kiko all key members of a side which represented many of the deepest qualities of the rojiblanco club’s traditions. El Cholo was the beating heart of a team which also clinched the Copa del Rey final by beating Barcelona 1-0 in the final, thanks to a goal from prolific Serbian midfielder Milinko Pantic. 

Summer 1997 took Simeone to Italy, where he played two years for Inter Milan, winning the 1997-98 UEFA Cup. There followed four further seasons for Lazio, where he lifted four trophies including the 1999–2000 Serie A title in a team coached by Sven Goran Eriksson. 

Simeone returned to Atletico in 2003 to help the club going through a difficult moment in their history, playing with new teammates including fellow countryman Ariel Ibagaza, and two new homegrown talents by the names of Fernando Torres and Gabi Fernandez. 

His international career with Argentina was also long and successful, including 11 goals in 108 caps, appearances at three World Cups, and two Copa America titles. After finishing his playing career back home with Racing Club, he also began his coaching career in Argentine football, before answering another call to return to Atletico as manager in December 2011. 

Simeone immediately looked to instil the same spirit he knew and had displayed week in, week out as player into that ailing Atletico squad. Other teammates from the 1995/96 double winners Juan Vizcaino and Jose Luis Caminero were also back at the club, as Simeone led them to their next and against all odds LaLiga title in 2013/14. And this season, again against all the odds, Atleti led the LaLiga Santander rankings for virtually the whole season and held on despite a late wobble to clinch the club’s 11th LaLiga title.  

The indefatigable rojiblanco midfielder was still recognisable in the manic character driving his team on from the sidelines. First as a player and now as a manager, El Cholo is a born winner and Atleti through and through.  

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Last call to keep playing in the first division

Who can still go down? Real Valladolid, SD Huesca and Elche CF. SD Eibar are already relegated. 

Who are currently going down as things standValladolid and Elche, in addition to Eibar. 

What are the biggest fixtures this week? Real Valladolid vs Atlético Madrid, Elche vs Athletic, Huesca vs Valencia (May 22nd) 

The relegation battle is just as fascinating as the title race; just five points separated 15th from 20th ahead of Matchday 37. Getafe and Alaves have only secured their top flight status with a week to go, while Eibar were became the first side to mathematically confirm relegation to LaLiga SmartBank.  

There still three teams in the relegation battle – Real Valladolid, SD Huesca and Elche CF – and only one can stay up. As things stand, Huesca are safe on 33 points. They face Valencia CF at El Alcoraz this weekend.  

Elche (33 points) and Valladolid (31 points) find themselves in the drop zone; they’ll need to win and hope for Huesca to slip up. Elche face Athletic Club, who have nothing on the line. But Valladolid face a very tough encounter with league leaders Atleti, who need a win to secure the title.   

If the season ended with the three sides tied on points, Huesca would survive, thanks to their head-to-head record against the other two. Expect fireworks in the relegation fight on the final day.

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Europa League and Conference League qualification still open

With just one matchday left before the end of the season, here’s all you need to know about what could happen this weekend in the most exciting league in Europe, with the title race, the European and relegation spots still to be decided. 

Who can still qualify? Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal CF 

Who’s in pole position? Real Sociedad and Real Betis, for the Europa League places 

What are the biggest fixtures this week? CA Osasuna vs Real Sociedad, RC Celta vs Real Betis, Real Madrid vs Villarreal CF (May 22nd) 

The top four in LaLiga Santander is already set; as are fifth, sixth and seventh: Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal CF. These are the seven Spanish teams to play European competitions next season, but there’s just a matter of working out the order, who will play in the Europa League (5th and 6th) and the Conference League (7th).  

As it stands, Real Sociedad and Real Betis will represent LaLiga in the Europa League next season, and the two sides face CA Osasuna and RC Celta, respectively, this weekend, two sides who have nothing on the line. Seventh-placed Villarreal would play in the inaugural season of the Conference League if things stay as they are, and travel to title challengers Real Madrid this weekend.  

Nevertheless, there’s the possibility of a different scenario playing out. Villarreal play Manchester United in the Europa League final on Wednesday 26th. If they win, the Yellow Submarine would play in next season’s Champions League. If this were the case, and Villarreal finished in seventh, there’d be no Spanish representative in the Conference League. If Villarreal finished in fifth or sixth, however, just one LaLiga team would go into the Europa League and the seventh-placed team would head into the Conference League as originally planned.   

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The last 90 minutes will be crucial for the title race

With just one matchday left before the end of the season, here’s all you need to know about what could happen this weekend in the most exciting league in Europe, with the title race, the European and relegation spots still to be decided. 

Who can still win it? Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid  

Who’s in pole situationAtlético de Madrid 

What are the biggest fixtures this week? Real Valladolid vs Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid vs Villarreal CF (May 22nd) 

The LaLiga Santander title race is without doubt the most exciting in Europe, with two teams still in with a shot of winning the championship with just one game remaining. Atletico de Madrid are on 83 points and Real Madrid 81 points. FC Barcelona, beaten by RC Celta on Sunday, are a few back on 76 and are now out of the running.  

Atleti know that they will be champions if they beat Real Valladolid, it’s a simple as that. But they know it won’t be easy. They came from behind to secure a very late win over Osasuna this weekend; with just ten minutes to go they were losing 1-0 and Real Madrid had leapfrogged into first. Valladolid won’t be an easy rival either; the club are fighting their their LaLiga Santander survival and will be desperate for a positive result if they are have any chance of staying up.   


Across town, second-placed Real Madrid will fight for the title until the very end. Their 1-0 win over Athletic Club this weekend kept their title hopes alive, and they’re now set to face in-form Villarreal CF on the final day. Villarreal have a lot at stake too; currently in seventh place, they need a win to stand a chance of qualifying for next season’s Europa League. So, what’s clear is that the four teams involved in the matches relevant to the title race all have a lot to play for.   

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LaLiga’s title race!

With only four matchdays remaining, this weekend throws up two decisive games in the race for the titleFC Barcelona-Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid-Sevilla FCJust six points separate these top four sides. 

Diego Simeone’s Atletico de Madrid have sat atop the LaLiga Santander standings for much of the season but with just a handful of games to go the title race couldn’t be tighter. Incredibly, just six points separate the top four sides: Atleti, reigning champions Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC. The title race looks set to go down to the wire, and the weekend sees the top four clubs face each other: FC Barcelona-Atlético de Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday, and Real Madrid-Sevilla FC on Sunday at Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium.  

“Neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona will lose another match,” Simeone predicted in early March, but we’ve already seen so many shock results this LaLiga Santander campaign that there are no guarantees. Barcelona had the perfect chance to go top in midweek, only to lose their game in hand at home to a sensational Granada CF side. Real Madrid had narrowed the gap to just one point after winning ElClasico two weekends ago, but then failed to capitalise after being held to goalless draws by both Getafe CF and Real Betis. Meanwhile, Sevilla lost against Athletic Club last Monday (just their second defeat in almost two months), which left slightly more adrift from top spot but still with a chance of winning the title, and also with a very strong chance of beating their historical points record.  

Here’s all you need to know about the final stretch of the title race: who’s involved, where they stand, the games they have left… so you can judge for yourself where you think points, and ultimately the LaLiga title, will be won and lost.  

Atlético de Madrid 

Current position: 1st (76 points) 

Next fixture: FC Barcelona (away) – Saturday 8th May, 4.15pm CEST 

Remaining fixtures: Real Sociedad (home), CA Osasuna (home), Real Valladolid (away) 

The last time Atleti won LaLiga Santander, it went down to the final day as they took the 2013/14 title with a draw away against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Given how tight this title race promises to be, it could go down to the wire once again. This year, their Matchday 38 fixture is away at Real Valladolid, who could well need points in the relegation battle.  

Simeone’s side have seen their previously big lead slowly narrow at the top, but remain top despite dropping points at Athletic Club – one of the toughest away days in LaLiga – last weekend. Barcelona’s loss to Granada means that Atleti are the only side to hold their destiny in their own hands. Elche CF were on the verge of denting their title hopes last weekend, only to miss a penalty in second half stoppage time. Atleti’s visit to Barcelona this weekend (May 8th) will go a long way towards deciding the title, a true six-pointer at the top. Or even a seven-pointer, since the head-to-head tiebreaker is at stake, which Atleti currently hold after beating the Catalans 1-0 earlier this season at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Real Madrid 

Current position: 2nd (74 points) 

Next fixture: Sevilla FC (home) – Sunday 9th May, 9pm CEST 

Remaining fixtures: Granada CF (away), Athletic Club (away), Villarreal CF (home)  

Real Madrid come into the final four games of the season very much in contention, two points behind leaders and city rivals Atleti. A dramatic 2-1 win over FC Barcelona three weekends ago saw them leapfrog their eternal rivals into second, but two goalless draws, first against Getafe and then at home to Betis, either side of a win over Cadiz in recent weeks have seen the reigning champions stutter in their title defence.  

Zinedine Zidane and his side are only too aware of the importance of finishing the season strong. Los Blancos claimed the 2019/20 championship by winning their final ten matches in a row following the return from the COVID-19 lockdown, mathematically sealing top spot with a round to spare. They face a difficult final few week of this campaign, so Zidane will look to bring back that essential winning mentality if he expects his side to stay in the hunt.  

They face a tough run-in though; three of their final four matches of the season are against teams who qualified for European competition last year. Watch out in particular for their mouthwatering clash on Sunday with Sevilla because, despite being four points behind, the Andalusians are still in with a shout and have been in tremendous form for the last two months. 

FC Barcelona 

Current position: 3rd (74 points) 

Next fixture: Atlético de Madrid (home) – Saturday 8th May, 4.15pm CEST 

Remaining fixtures: Levante UD (away), RC Celta (home), SD Eibar (away) 

Ronald Koeman’s side could have gone top last week with a win in their game in hand against Granada on Thursday night. What could have been a big night in the title race – and a change in league leader – turned out to be even more dramatic than anyone expected. Barça let the lead slip and fell to 2-1 defeat at home to the Andalusians, missing their chance to jump to the top of the standings and allowing Atleti to stay top. Crucially, the defeat means that the title is no longer in their hands. They did follow up with a gutsy 3-2 win away at Valencia, so it’s all still to play for.  

The big game to watch out for? The visit of Atleti to the Camp Nou this Saturday. Having lost the corresponding fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this season, this head-to-head clash is decisive, for better or for worse!  

Sevilla FC 

Current position: 4th (70 points) 

Next fixture: Real Madrid (away) – Sunday 9th May, 9pm CEST 

Remaining fixtures: Valencia CF (home), Villarreal CF (away), D. Alaves (home) 

Seven victories in their last nine games have given Sevilla a mathematical title shot. Driven by the goals of Youssef En-Nesyri, the creative ability of Ivan Rakitic and Lucas Ocampos, and the tactical nous of Julen Lopetegui, the Andalusians are also now just seven points away from surpassing their historical record for points, set in 2014-2015 (76).  

Having already wrapped up Champions League qualification for next season, Sevilla have made the LaLiga title chase a four-horse race. But they face a difficult run-in which will test their mettle, facing Real Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal – all of which have represented LaLiga in Europe in recent seasons – before a final test away at D. Alaves, who could still be battling for survival on the final day of the season.   

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LaLiga Santander Matchday 34 preview

There is no title race in Europe as competitive as that of LaLiga Santander, with four teams all within touching distance of the top of the table. Defending champions Real Madrid are joined by FC BarcelonaAtlético de Madrid and Sevilla FC in this battle for domestic glory and each candidate has a tough match coming up this weekend before they face off against each other next week. The two capital city sides have their matches on Saturday, before Barça play on Sunday and Sevilla on Monday.  

The very first game of the weekend is the Friday night fixture between RC Celta and Levante UD, a match which takes on added importance given that Celta’s recent good form has put them in with a chance of European qualification. Currently eight points behind the last European qualification spot with five rounds to go, they need the three points and will look to take advantage of Levante’s recent poor form (five defeats in six).  

A Basque derby kicks off Saturday’s action as DAlaves host SD Eibar. This is more than just a derby as both sides are in the bottom five and sweating for their LaLiga Santander survival. Then, at 4.15pm CEST, Elche CF host Atlético de Madrid as the home side target the three points to help with their own survival efforts and as the visitors look to get back on track in their title charge following a defeat last weekend. After several weeks of missing players through injury and suspension, Los Rojiblancos are finally getting healthy and will be full of energy after a midweek with no fixture.  

At 9pm CEST on Saturday night, Real Madrid continue their quest to defend the championship they won last year with a home encounter with CA Osasuna. These two sides played out a goalless draw in the Pamplona snow earlier in the campaign but will now meet on the first day of May at Real Madrid’s Estadio Di Stéfano in Valdebebas – a stadium which has seen its fair share of torrential weather in recent weeks! 

Sunday begins with Real Valladolid vs Real Betis and, once again, it’s a match with so much at stake. Real Valladolid are currently the last team inside the relegation zone, while Los Verdiblancos will be looking to jumpstart their European push again after five consecutive draws. Villarreal CF face Getafe CF next and the Yellow Submarine know they can’t afford to take it easy. Unai Emery’s men are currently in seventh and in the final European spot, but they’ll want to move up the table to turn their Conference League ticket into another Europa League pass.  

Then, the 9pm CEST Saturday night fixture is one of the biggest and best in Spanish football. Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona is a huge duel between two sides who have produced some classics over the years. Their past 15 meetings have thrown up seven Barça wins, three Valencia CF wins and five draws, with 53 goals scored for an average of 3.5 goals per game. Their encounter at Camp Nou earlier this season ended 2-2 and, should Los Che hold Barça again, it would be yet another twist in a thrilling title race. 

The race for the title continues into Monday night, when Sevilla FC look to make it six wins in a row against Athletic Club. Julen Lopetegui’s side have propelled themselves into the race since the March international break with seven wins from their last eight, but will be wary of an Athletic Club side that seriously dented tleti’s title hopes last weekend. No matter what the situation at the top of the table is by kick-off of this Monday night fixture, it’ll be a can’t miss encounter to round off the weekend’s action.  

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Brothers who starred in LaLiga

Having one LaLiga star talent in a family isn’t so common; two (or more) is downright remarkable. Here’s a look at some of the brothers who’ve starred in LaLiga over the years.  

Frank and Ronald De Boer 

The De Boer twins had an extraordinary career. Both Frank and Ronald were part of the iconic Ajax team of the mid-1990s, winning the Champions League in 1995 before moving together to Barcelona, under their former coach Louis van Gaal, in 1999. They won LaLiga Santander that season but their time together in LaLiga lasted just one year. Ronald moved to Rangers after just a season, while Frank remained a mainstay at the Camp Nou until 2003.  

Thiago and Rafinha Alcântara  

Thiago and Rafinha have a famous father in Mazinho, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994. He too played in Spain during his career and both of his sons spent much of their childhood in Spain, each passing through the world-famous La Masia academy on their way to reaching the Barça first team. Both have since moved away from Catalonia, though, with older brother Thiago enjoying success at Liverpool and younger brother Rafinha moving from RC Celta to PSG last summer. 

Fernando and Manolo Hierro 

Fernando Hierro is one of the most talented and decorated Spanish players in history, having captained both Real Madrid and Spain throughout his exceptional career. Not many football fans will know, however, that his two older brothers also played in the top tier of Spanish football, though of course without his level of success. Antonio Hierro managed a handful of appearances for Málaga, while Manolo Hierro forged a good career for himself in LaLiga Santander playing for Málaga CF, Real Valladolid, Real Betis and CD Tenerife. Both Fernando and Manolo mostly played at centre-back during their careers and even played in defence together at Valladolid during the 1987/88 season.  

Diego and Gabriel Milito 

Argentine brothers Diego and Gabriel Milito’s footballing relationship was an interesting one from the very start; they came through at rival sides Racing Club de Avellaneda and Independiente, respectively, and made a name for themselves in the late 1990s as two of the most promising young players in Argentine football. In Spain they reunited at Real Zaragoza between 2005 and 2007, both proving to be among the best players in their position in LaLiga (Diego was a centre-forward; Gabriel and centre-back). They later went up against each other again as Gabriel moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2007, while Diego stayed on in Zaragoza for another year before moving to Serie A.   

Lucas and Theo Hernández 

Lucas and Theo Hernández are the sons of former Atlético Madrid player Jean-François Hernandez and both players came through the Atleti academy, emerging as two of the best defenders to come through the ranks in recent years. In 2017, though, Theo shocked Spanish football with a move across the capital to Real Madrid before he’d ever played a competitive fixture for Atleti’s senior side. Nowadays, he is one of the best Serie A stars playing for AC Milan. Lucas, meanwhile, established himself as one of European football’s best full-backs at Atleti, winning the Europa League in 2018 before moving to Bayern Munich in 2019.  

Diego and Hugo Maradona 

Most football fans know about Diego Maradona’s up and down spells in LaLiga, first with Barcelona and later with Sevilla. Yet his younger brother Hugo also spent time in Spain, playing for Rayo Vallecano between 1988 and 1990 while brother Diego was at Napoli. Hugo helped Rayo Vallecano earn promotion to LaLiga Santander in the 1988/89 season, scoring six goals along the way, before the team from Vallecas were relegated back down the very next season.  

Xabi and Mikel Alonso 

Mikel and Xabi Alonso were born to play football and they were born to play for Real Sociedad, the same club their father Periko Alonso played for and coached. Both midfielders, they came through the youth ranks at the same time despite the 18-month age gap between the two; younger brother Xabi was already on the pitch when Mikel made his debut for La Real against Real Valladolid in 2000/01. Mikel’s career never took off in the same way as Xabi’s did, with the younger brother going on to win domestic and European trophies with Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, as well as the World Cup and European Championships with Spain.  

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Europe League: The miracle behind Villarreal CF’s European dream

Editorial column by Marcos Senna a Villarreal CF player between 2002 and 2013 and won Euro 2008 with Spain. Now he works as director of institutional relations at Villarreal CF, a role he has held since 2016, and he is also a LaLiga Ambassador.  

It was April 25th 2006. It was 15 years ago. The events of that night remain clear in my mind. It was the night that we were just two minutes and 12 yards away from defeating a legendary Arsenal side and reaching the final of the Champions League. That was the difference between success and an uncomfortable hangover that lasts for life. Fortunately, football has afforded Villarreal CF the possibility of reaching a new European final. Or, better put, Villarreal CF have earned this opportunity. This is the result of a well-established and sustainable project. That’s the only way to understand how a club from a city of just 50,000 residents has reached its fifth European semi-final of the past 16 seasons. In contrast to teams from big cities like Rome, Manchester, London, Paris or Madrid, the entire population of the city of Vila-Real would fit inside Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and there would still be 10,000 seats left over! The club’s budget of 117 million euros is smaller than those of all the other ‘superclub’ European semi-finalists. It’s David surrounded by Goliaths.  

I remember when I arrived in Vila-Real for the first time in 2002, having come from the giant urban setting of São Paulo. At the time, the club had only been in Spain’s top division for three seasons, making what we achieved during the 11 years I was there all the more incredible. For context, the first time Villarreal CF won promotion to LaLiga Santander level was in 1998 and Gianluigi Buffon was already an international player with Italy. It wasn’t that long ago, but the club has evolved so much that it’s as if 100 years have passed.  

Fernando Roig, the club’s president, was a visionary and always had things clear in his mind. That’s how Villarreal CF have become an example of intelligent, responsible and honest management in football. All of the club’s players, including the youth team players, have been surrounded by the best possible professionals to assist with their development. For example, there are pioneering programmes in nutrition and psychology. The financial limitations have been countered with a firm backing of the academy, as seen through the club’s two sporting centres and the residency that was recently opened. They also make up ground through excellent recruitment work. Over the years, quality international players have worn the club’s shirt, such as Forlán, Riquelme, Cazorla, Pires, Reina, Bruno Soriano, Capdevila, Godín, Marchena, Rossi, Soldado and Rodri. Then, looking at the current squad, they have Pau Torres, Chukwueze, Bacca, Gerard Moreno, Albiol, Alcácer, Parejo… All of this is part of a project and footballing ethos that doesn’t falter. Even when the club went down to LaLiga SmartBank in 2012, they bounced straight back up. That’s why there is so much satisfaction with the current achievements. It has been built one training session at a time over the past few years. This is a model club that you can be proud of.  

Even though top players like Cazorla, Bruno Soriano or Ekambi departed last year, Villarreal CF are still fighting to reach the Europa League final. They haven’t lost a single match so far in this season’s tournament. At the same time, they’re still battling in LaLiga Santander in the competitive race for fifth place. There’s a need to recognise the efforts of Unai Emery, a winning coach, and of the entire squad. I’m sure that this semi-final tie will be very special for all of them. Against Arsenal, they have an invaluable opportunity to break through the wall and reach a European final for the first time. I think our time has come. It’s time to fight for a title and, I hope, to win one.  

In Spain, there is talk of this being a semi-final of revenge because the opposition is Arsenal, the team of 15 years ago. However, this tie actually goes beyond that. It’s an example of how, with good management, the ‘European dream’ is achievable for any modest club that knows how to embrace the beauty and richness of the football we all know and love, even if the club isn’t one of the continent’s most historic or powerful. And remember, David did defeat Goliath…  

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Spanish clubs unanimously and forcefully reject the Super League format

MADRID, April 22, 2021 — LaLiga met yesterday with the 39 clubs not invited to be part of the European Super League to discuss the recent proposal for this format. 

The present clubs at the meeting unanimously and strongly rejected the plans for this competition. All clubs firmly believe in sporting merit as the sole criteria to qualify to international club competitions through domestic leagues.  

Today football fans across Europe can dream that their club, no matter the size, may excel, climb to the top and compete at the pinnacle of European football. This European tradition of football for all is paramount and should not be threatened or changed.  

Global resistance over the past few days has proven that a closed, elitist league is unviable and unwanted. The reaction proves just how much the open ecosystem and football community means to people. 

LaLiga and the clubs gathered today want to thank everyone involved for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue. 

LaLiga will continue to work with stakeholders including fan groups, government, UEFA, the RFEF, AFE and European Leagues to protect the best interests of the game and calls on those clubs still involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.   

Signed by: Athletic Club, CA Osasuna, Cádiz CF, Deportivo Alavés, Elche CF, Getafe CF, Granada CF, Levante UD, RC Celta, Real Betis, Real Sociedad, Real Valladolid CF, SD Eibar, SD Huesca, Sevilla FC, Valencia CF, Villarreal CF; AD Alcorcón, Albacete BP, CD Castellón, CD Leganés, CD Lugo, CD Mirandés, CD Tenerife, CE Sabadell, CF Fuenlabrada, FC Cartagena, Girona FC, Málaga CF, Rayo Vallecano, RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, RCD Mallorca, Real Oviedo, Real Sporting, Real Zaragoza, SD Ponferradina, UD Almería, UD Las Palmas, UD Logroñés. 

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Eight top-flight fixtures on one Super Sunday!

Just eight rounds of the LaLiga Santander season remain and it could hardly be tighter at the top of the table, with Atlético Madrid on 67 points, Real Madrid on 66, FC Barcelona on 65 and Sevilla FC on 61. The drama will continue this weekend, with Matchday 33 having been brought forward and with eight fixtures taking place on a very intense Sunday April 18th. Not all LaLiga Santander teams will play this weekend, due to Saturday night’s Copa del Rey final between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona, but Spanish football fans are in for a treat on this action-packed Sunday.  

There are four different time slots of matches on Sunday and, in the first at 14:00 CEST, CA Osasuna will take on Elche CF at the same time as Real Sociedad meet Sevilla FC. While CA Osasuna have moved towards mid-table safety, Elche CF have slipped back into the relegation zone and need every point they can muster. Then, in Real Sociedad vs Sevilla FC, this is a battle between the team currently fifth and the team currently fourth. If La Real have any hope of making the Andalusian side sweat over their Champions League status then they need to collect all three points.  

At 16:15 CEST there are two more matches and they have immense implications for the title race and the relegation battle. Leaders Atlético Madrid will welcome bottom-placed SD Eibar to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, where they have drawn twice and lost once from three visits. Atleti have been struggling with injuries of late and have just one victory from their past four league matches, so need a positive result against the Basque side.  

Just one point above SD Eibar are Deportivo Alavés, who this weekend’s host 16th placed SD Huesca, a team only three points away. It really is tight at the bottom and that makes this a crucial six-pointer, one that Deportivo Alavés will hope their new coach Javi Calleja can win.  

Both matches in Sunday’s 18:30 CEST time slot take place in Andalusia, as Real Betis host Valencia CF for a fixture that has been a lot of fun in recent years. Not only have there been last-minute winners and great goals, but there have been 27 total goals over their past nine meetings for an average of three per game.  

Meanwhile, Cádiz CF take on RC Celta Vigo at home and will be looking for revenge for the 4-0 thrashing they suffered when they visited Galicia earlier in the season. Now, it’s Celta Vigo’s turn to make the trip to the other side of the country and they do so after finishing on the losing side in a 4-3 Monday night thriller against Sevilla FC.  

The last two of the eight Sunday fixtures are being held at 21:00 CEST and Getafe CF vs Real Madrid really stands out given its importance in the title race. Real Madrid are in great form as they’ve won their past four in LaLiga Santander, including last weekend’s ElClásico. Now they make the short trip to Getafe CF, but they’ll do so with some fatigue after their midweek trip to Anfield and they’ll do so with several players out due to suspension and injury. It won’t be easy against the Azulones, who have already taken points off Atlético Madrid and off FC Barcelona at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in 2020/21.  

Also at 21:00 CEST, there is a derby match in the Valencian Community between Levante UD and Villarreal CF. This should be a very interesting watch between two teams who know each other well and two teams who play attacking football. Villarreal CF got the better of their regional neighbours earlier this season in LaLiga Santander, but Levante UD gained revenge by knocking the Yellow Submarine out of the Copa del Rey. It’ll be fascinating to see who wins the battle this time around.  

The other two fixtures of Matchday 33 are Athletic Club vs Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona vs Granada CF, but these will take place later in the season due to the two home teams’ participation in the Copa del Rey final. With eight fixtures in the same day, though, there will still be more than enough drama and excitement in Spain’s top division this weekend.  

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