And so it all comes down to the maths. It was ever thus; this team beats that team, our team draws with that team and that striker bags a hat-trick to let us move ahead on goal difference,
we pay four members of that team fifty large a piece to let in three goals in fifteen first half minutes. As I said, maths.
All matches in the penultimate Jornada 37 kick off at 8pm on Sunday, which should well please the purists if not the TV types. It also means the re-appearance on Spanish streets of old men dawdling along during evening paseo with transistor radios and earpieces – hitherto made redundant by cash spinning staggered kick-offs which doesn’t really seem to have spun much in the way of lucre.
Anyway, I’ll be using the AS periodic table of football fixtures, which bear little relation to the actual alphabet used by us non-hack mortals – so forgive me if there’s any confusion.
There’s a Catalan derby/love-in when Espanyol host Barcelona. These matches used to have a little more needle, but ever since Andres Iniesta celebrated his World Cup winning goal with a touching tribute to his recently passed friend, Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, things have become a little less fractious. That said, there’s still a touch of the Reading vs Aldershot 1979 about it (tasty, very tasty).
Next the El Balonazo private jet – funded through extensive shirt sales and scant regard for local tax regulations (just kidding) – lands in Valladolid where the locals welcome Celta. The light blues from Vigo are rock bottom and need a full three points whilst hoping that the old enemy Depor don’t get a result of any sort at Malaga. I suspect a Celta victory and a week long flutter of hope in Vigo hearts, as Euro chasing/Euro injunction locked Malaga should be too much for Depor.
In the first game of the weekend that actually has some significance for both teams, Granada take the long road to face Valencia. The home team need a result to keep apace with La Real for the last Champions League spot whilst a point would see Granada safe for another season of inconsistency and mid-season rejuvination followed by a relegation scrap.
After that there may be some Crying in the Chapel as Bilbao host their final fixture at San Mames. They probably hoped for a local derby, Barca, Madrid or Atleti to come rolling into town. They got Levante.
Down by the riverside in Madrid, Atleti’s cup winning team take the plaudits at the Calderon. Looking to spoil the party and save their own skins are Mallorca whose match winning exploits against Betis on Monday mean that there is still a glimmer of hope. It’s a really faint glimmer, though.
Whilst all of that is going on Getafe look forward to the arrival of Rayo. Geta are now out of the Euro Dash but Rayo still have a shout but are relying on a) Sevilla falling foul of Osasuna, b) Malaga’s expulsion from UEFA competition being upheld and c) Rayo’s own appeal against expulsion from the LFP and UEFA being upheld. If if’s and but’s were little nuts…
In what is probably the game of the weekend La Real take on Madrid in San Sebastian. A victory for the locals will put them within touching distance of Europe Big Boys League, a domain stalked by the visitors since Black & White. Madrid will be without Jose on the bench, although this will give them an opportunity to get some divisive free game time in before the reality of his imminent departure to the land of milk and honey – Fulham Broadway – sinks in.
Madrid’s own managerial fishing mission may have to stretch beyond the banks of the Seine as Carlo Ancelotti is told that he has a year left on his contract and told to honour it. Honour? Football? And I thought that I was a touch green.
Osasuna then have a chance to put their relegation woes to bed with a home game against Sevilla. I’m rather looking forward to an away day to Pamplona next season so I hope that they make it. But then again I’ve a softish spot for Sevilla…
Finally, in an opposing ends of the table six pointer Betis entertain Real Zaragoza. Betis could sneak into the ‘virtually assured’ zenith that is the Europa League whilst third from bottom Zaragoza need a win an results elsewhere.
That’s it. The bottom three could, just could, all go down this weekend. Should that happen, expect a clear-out of some considerable talent; Iago Aspas is wanted by a slew of clubs. Helder Postiga and Alan Hutton’s travel plans are unknown.