5 Talking Points from Matchday 30 as Los Blancos take Pole Position

LaLiga matchday 30

It was a significant weekend at both ends of the table as LaLiga matchday 30 produced a host of talking points and some very significant results. Celta Vigo were the big winners at the bottom while Real Madrid reclaimed top spot and pole position in the title race as Barcelona dropped points in Seville.

LaLiga matchday 30 results

Friday 19th June

Mallorca 1-1 Leganes

Granada 0-1 Villarreal

Sevilla 0-0 Barcelona

Saturday 20th June

Espanyol 1-3 Levante

Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Real Betis

Getafe 1-1 Eibar

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Real Valladolid

Sunday 21st June

Celta Vigo 6-0 Alaves

Valencia 2-0 Osasuna

Real Sociedad 1- 2 Real Madrid

Links lead to the official Youtube highlights.


5 Talking Points from LaLiga Matchday 30


by Robert Barter (@RobertBarter16

Condemnation

Following a fantastic opening two fixtures following football’s suspension, Abelardo’s hopes of survival for Espanyol were dealt a major blow on Saturday as Paco Lopez’s Levante ran out 3-1 winners in Cornella. 

A win and a hard-earned draw saw the struggling side lift themselves off the bottom of the table, but the defeat suffered here and results elsewhere have not only resigned the club to last place again, but leave them five points adrift of safety.

They play Real Betis on matchday 31, a crucial game for both sides with Betis not yet safe having sacked head coach Rubi, before they face title chasing Real Madrid and a Real Sociedad side with their European aspirations still a definite possibility. A daunting trip to Camp Nou also awaits. 

A great escape cannot yet be ruled out under Abelardo, but with fixtures on the horizon only getting tougher, Los Periquitos are in serious danger of playing in the Segunda Division for the first time since 1994. Should they go down not only will they find it challenging to achieve immediate promotion, but Abelardo may not be as keen to coach in the second tier knowing his services would be desired in more illustrious settings. 

Three in a row for Calleja

With the domestic misfortunes of Atletico Madrid, speculation has been rife all season with regard to which teams will take the third and fourth spots. Sevilla have occupied third for a large portion of the season while unlikely contenders Getafe and Real Sociedad had staked their own claims with impressive runs of form. 

With Sevilla winless in their last two, Simeone’s Atletico have leapfrogged them in the table and with perennial challengers Valencia and Athletic Bilbao nowhere near their best, a chance arose for Javier Calleja and Villarreal, one which they have taken as their third 1-0 win in succession has them in 6th and only five points behind Sevilla in fourth, who they host at the Estadio Ceramica tonight. 

Despite sitting as low as 13th on matchday 17, Calleja’s side have won seven of their last ten league games and a win over Lopetegui’s Sevilla will bring them to within two points of potential Champions League football, provided results go their way when Jose Bordelas’s Getafe visit Valladolid. 

Following on from Sevilla they host an inconsistent Valencia before a trip to the Benito Villamarin to face a Betis side in turmoil. An unnerving trip to the Bernabeu still awaits, but their playing of Barcelona at the Ceramica will provide hope based on the poor away form displayed by the reigning Champions this campaign. Games opposite Getafe and Eibar provide winnable outings as El Submarino Amarillo looks to secure its first Champions League campaign since 2012. 

Back where they belong

Having put five past Osasuna and with Sevilla having dropped more points, the chance was there for Atletico Madrid to reclaim the spot behind Real Madrid and Barcelona that they have made theirs in recent seasons, and while they made it difficult for themselves, they did deserve the eventual 1-0 win attained via a Vitolo header in the 81st minute.

Unlike against Osasuna, where Atletico scored from five of their six shots that hit the target, they were not as efficient going forward against a stern Valladolid looking to accumulate as many points as possible in a bid to secure top flight football for a third straight season. Diego Costa, Koke, Saul and Angel Correa were all dropped for this game, showcasing the depth at the club, while a second clean sheet in a row for Jan Oblak has restored some faith in their defence, having registered only one shutout in their last seven league games. 

As they finished second last season, comfortably ahead of their city neighbours, they conceded 29 goals in 38 games, scoring 55. With eight remaining this campaign they have already let in 22, while further forward the goals of Antoine Griezmann, enduring a massively disappointing maiden campaign with Barcelona, have been desperately lacking. Atleti have scored a meagre 38, 19 less than the leaders and 29 less than Barcelona in second. 

A trip to Levante awaits while between their hosting of Mallorca and Alaves at the Metropolitano, they visit Camp Nou, a venue in which Simeone has never won in the league. While their visit to Catalonia usually ends in routine defeat, they must win the other three fixtures against lowly opposition if they want to secure yet another top four finish, as Sevilla, Getafe, an in-form Villarreal and Real Sociedad remain within touching distance with eight arduous games still to be played. 

Catalan concern

As the fixture list was of approximately similar difficulty, the question remained who would slip up first in the chase for the title. Unfortunately for Barcelona it was them, as their sluggish and uninspired performance in Seville saw them slump to a dire 0-0 draw. It was a game they should probably have lost, Madrid-loanee Sergio Reguillon fluffing his lines late on when presented with a golden chance to snatch all three points for the hosts.

Even more stressful for Quique Setien remains the fact that they still have to visit Balaidos and the Ceramica, notoriously difficult venues for the reigning champions, with Barcelona having won more games at the Bernabeu in the last three seasons than at Balaidos in Galicia. Celta’s masterful performance, a 6-0 win over Alaves, has done little to allay fears as they look to have hit form in an attempt to stave off relegation, unbeaten in their last two, and despite the fact that their games opposite Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao will be played at Camp Nou, they still remain difficult for a side far from harmonious.

Injuries sustained by Sergi Roberto and Frenkie de Jong, the severity of which is still not fully understood, has heaped even more strain onto an already thin squad. Meanwhile the threat looms for Griezmann of following in the same vein as Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, with the €120 million man having to settle for a place on the bench in the dull stalemate with Sevilla, his poor form being punished as Martin Braithwaite started from the left.

Barcelona should win their final four games but they are at great risk of dropping even more points across the next four match days. They have lost top spot, and with their rivals having on paper the easier run-in, Barcelona must rely on results elsewhere if they are to claim their third consecutive league title.

A controversial new leader

Barcelona have always had an inferiority complex towards Real Madrid, thanks in part to the success enjoyed by the club under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and controversy has emerged yet again during Real Madrid’s hard fought 2-1 win at Anoeta on Sunday night.

At 0-0 a soft penalty – to put it mildly – was awarded to the visitors following a tumble taken by Vinicius Junior, from which Sergio Ramos scored, before a possible Karim Benzema handball just before he slotted home the second was reviewed by VAR, but was also allowed to stand. Real Sociedad had the ball in the net at 0-1, the decision to disallow it again proving contentious and Mikel Merino’s 83rd minute strike was not enough to instigate a late equaliser. 

The win saw Madrid usurp Barcelona as the league leaders, and with five of their last eight games coming against sides placed 10th or lower, Los Blancos are rightfully favourites to claim their first league title since 2017. Their other three fixtures see them face Getafe, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao, but apart from the fixture at San Mames, they play the other two sides at home.

As we have seen with defeats suffered to Betis and Levante, Madrid have been more prone to dropping points against the smaller sides this season, but with their elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City all but certain, they will be even more determined to claim their 34th league title to ensure that they do not suffer a second trophy-less season in succession.

About Robert Barter 11 Articles
Football writer for LaLiga Expert & Zicoball.