LaLiga matchday 32 is now complete and there is plenty to look back on with some of the best football since the restart produced. Virtually all the games had flashes of real quality and we saw some wonderful goals scored as the picture at both ends of the table started to become a bit clearer.
LaLiga matchday 32 results
Friday 26th June
Saturday 27th June
Sunday 28th June
Monday 29th June
Links lead to the official Youtube highlights.
5 Talking Points from LaLiga Matchday 32
by Mark Sochon
Great Assists & Great Goals
So, so good from Benzema.
Assist of the season?pic.twitter.com/FTUqwfoAqc
— LaLigaExpert (@LigaExpert) June 28, 2020
If the quality was slightly down in the opening few games back following the restart – something that was completely understandable given none of these players are match fit – this weekend showcased all that is great about LaLiga. A series of sublime pieces of skill led to some outstanding goals this weekend.
Sunday witnessed arguably the best two assists of the season in one day. Santi Cazorla’s outstanding cushioned touch turned a long punt forward from the goalkeeper into an opportunity for Gerard Moreno to volley home from the edge of the box, something he did with aplomb as an inspired Villarreal went 2-0 up against Valencia. It was a really special and genuinely unique goal and one that capped an excellent 1st Half showing from the Yellow Submarine.
Later in the day, Karim Benzema rivalled Cazorla’s assist, with an exquisite backheel that perfectly teed up Casemiro to score the only goal of Real Madrid’s trip to Espanyol. The Frenchman has come back strong following the restart, also scoring a stunning volley against Valencia.
There were plenty of other fine goals to pick from too with Levante scoring some nice ones in their 4-2 win over Betis, Enric Gallego’s overhead kick for Osasuna and Pablo de Blasis’ wonderful scooped chip for Eibar which set them on their way to victory in Granada.
Valencia have sacked manager Albert Celades after only nine months in charge.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 30, 2020
The Villarreal-Valencia game which the Yellow Submarine dominated would also prove the last for Valencia boss Albert Celades. Many had expected him to be replaced at the end of the season but this controversial Mestalla board decided to act now in the wake of another inept display from Los Che.
Celades always faced a difficult job in terms of replacing Marcelino who was popular both in the dressing room and on the terraces. There was the odd sign that he was starting to find his feet, particularly the impressive 2-0 win over Barcelona in January, not to mention a successful progression from a difficult Champions League group.
However 8 defeats in his final 13 games ultimately sealed his fate and while Celades has had injury problems to deal with, there can be no question that Los Che have gone backwards under him, particularly defensively with many games seeing their flaws badly exploited by the opposition.
Former Barcelona and Athletic Club boss Ernesto Valverde is seen as the most likely replacement.
Down & Out?
— Deporteyocio (@Deporteyocio) June 27, 2020
Heading into the restart, it looked very difficult to pick which three teams would ultimately go down with not much separating the bottom five. Many were anticipating a desperate struggle for survival that would go right to the wire, yet here we are at the end of matchday 32 with the relegation picture suddenly looking very clear.
It’s a bleak picture for Espanyol, Leganes and Mallorca. There is now a huge 8 point gap between 17th placed Celta Vigo and Mallorca in the highest of the relegation positions. Espanyol are now a distant 10 points from safety following another drastic downturn in form that led to the sacking of their third coach of the season as Abelardo got the chop prior to their 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid on matchday 31.
It’s a much brighter outlook for Eibar now though. The Basque minnows have won back-to-back games against Valencia and Granada to seemingly secure top flight status and extend their stay in LaLiga into a 7th season – an extraordinary achievement for a club of their size.
Fated to Pretend
We were fated to pretend. To pretend.
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) June 27, 2020
Few would argue that this is a strange time for Spanish football with a title race playing out in empty stadiums, long after the season should have finished. It got just that little bit weirder on Saturday when Gerard Pique took to Twitter to quote an MGMT song about heavy drug use, living fast and dying young.
Pique most likely was not advocating such a lifestyle but what his point exactly was has predictably been the source of much debate. Many have taken it as criticism of Celta’s Barça loanee Rafinha, who fell over rather easily to earn a free-kick from which Iago Aspas brilliantly curled in a late equaliser, which served as the latest major blow to Barcelona’s chances of retaining their title.
They are now two points behind Real Madrid with the inferior head-to-head record and the tougher run-in. While this has been a season where Los Blancos have slipped up in unlikely places, it’s certainly starting to feel like this is Real Madrid’s title to lose.
Read more – Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid preview
The European Battle gets Interesting
Here's the stunning Villarreal 2nd goal.pic.twitter.com/RROztYl6oA
— LaLigaExpert (@LigaExpert) June 28, 2020
If the title race and relegation scrap both look to be heading to somewhat predictable conclusions now, matchday 32 did at least make things a bit more interesting in terms of the battle for Europe. Victories for Getafe and Villarreal saw them close in on 4th placed Sevilla who were held to a 4th straight draw by Real Valladolid on Friday night.
Just 3 points separate the sides now. Sevilla are in pole position and do have the easier run-in but it certainly feels as though the momentum is with Villarreal. They suddenly look a pretty solid outfit all over the pitch, much improved defensively from last season and with more cutting edge in the final third with the likes of Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno offering a genuine goal threat.
Getafe’s first win since the restart on Monday over Real Sociedad also gives them something to build from. It was the most ‘Getafe-like’ performance since the resumption and with fitness levels and match sharpness improving, they will be more optimistic of a strong end to the campaign following victory over a direct European rival.