Will the real 4th place team please stand up?

I believe, this is a very strange season all over Europe. Football Leagues in every nation have a different story to tell.

Italy has a two horse race, England has a three where as Germany has a four horse race, everybody is losing in Holland, it is all but wrapped up in Scotland and Fuel rich PSG are being pushed to the limit in France.

In Spain, the season is promising a full drama till the end of the season. No, not for the the title decider, but in the middle of the pack.

While 15 fixtures are yet to be played, Real Madrid are sitting comfortably at the top of the table with a massive 10 point lead over Barcelona.

Barca have thrown away the league. Thanks to their terrible away form, Barca have picked up just 17 points from possible 33, where as Real have picked up 28. Even Rayo Vallecano have managed more away points than Barca, 18.

Barca will have to up their away form and hope for some miracles. Otherwise the Real seem to have wrapped up the league. As usual, Valencia are third placed. There is incredible 21 point gap between the leaders, Real Madrid and Valencia. These three teams will finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd and will qualify directly for the next year’s Champions League group stages.

But what about fourth place? Who wants to have a shot at Champions League playoff round next year? Who wants to be a millionaire?

No one.

Further 7 points adrift of Valencia and 28 points of Real Madrid, at 33 points from 23 games, the real drama starts.

Flight to the Fourth.

It is an incredible melee of 14 teams. Only 7 points separate 4th placed Espanyol and 17th placed Villarreal.

Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao are tied on 33 points but Espanyol are placed ahead of Bilbao on better head-to-head points (ESP 2-1 ATH and ATH 3-3 ESP). Thus in case of same points by the end of the season, Espanyol will always be ahead of Bilbao.

Atletico Madrid and Levante are tied on 32 points, but since Atletico beat Levante 3-2, they are placed 6th and Levante are 7th. If Levante beat Atletico in the reverse fixture, head to head goal difference will be taken into consideration.

Rayo Vallecano, Malaga and Osasuna have acquired 8th, 9th and 10th places and all have 31 points.

Seville and Betis are locked 11th and 12th with 29 points. Mallorca, Getafe and Granada are on 13th, 14th and 15th with 28 points. Real Sociedad and Villarreal are on 16th and 17th with 27 and 26 points.

Okay, the chances of Seville, Betis, Mallorca, Getafe, Granada, Sociedad and Villarreal getting a fourth spot are less realistic but from 15 remaining fixtures, if anybody manages to hit a hot streak of wins, it’ll go down to the wire.

Main reason of this situation is none of these teams have a consistent run of results. Lets have a look at the points picked up in their last 6 league games and the impact on their standings.

Position Now

Position 6 weeks back

Team

Points picked up

Points available

4

8

Espanyol

9

18

5

9

Athletic Bilbao

10

18

6

11

Atletico Madrid

12

18

7

4

Levante

2

18

8

13

Rayo Vallecano

12

18

9

6

Malaga

6

18

10

5

Osasuna

5

18

Despite Levante’s dismal form, Malaga and Osasuna couldn’t continue their initial good form and all three have been struggling recently. Even with huge spending spree and incredibly disastrous performances, Malaga too have a chance to get a playoff spot.

Espanyol and Atletico Madrid had a great chance to change the table scenario but they too could manage 2 and 3 points respectively in their last 3 games.

Rayo Vallecano have been promoted in La Liga this season. And they are playing some good football in the league. With 3 consecutive wins Rayo Vallecano have surged ahead, and are deservedly claiming their stake on that 4th spot.

Nobody is showing a true potential to be worthy of a Champions League playoff spot. Instead of good performances and consistency, it seems they all are waiting for others to press self destruction button. Lets see if the coming week will help reshuffling of this pack.

Next week’s fixtures
Espanyol vs Levante: It is a potential 6 pointer game and the winner will be either 4 or 2 points clear of each other. But Levante’s away form has been disatrous. They have lost all 6 previous away matches in the league. Although Espanyol themselves are not in a great form, I still think they’ll beat Levante comfortably at home, maybe 2-0.

Villarreal vs Athletic Bilbao: Although it is a battle between 17th and 4th placed team, only 7 points separate these two. Both the teams have picked up 10 points in their last 6 games. Historically Villarreal have been good against Bilbao at home. But they’ll have to wipe out last week’s 4-0 drubbing by Mallorca, where as Bilbao have thrashed mega rich Malaga 3-0. This one is tough to call. I guess Villarreal can nick it 1-0.

Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona: Atletico have been formidable at home against Barcelona. They have beaten Barca 4 times in last 6 seasons. Barca’s away form hasn’t been too good either. In last  6 away matches, they have picked up only 8 points, where as Atletico have picked up 13 points in last 6 home games. I can see a draw here. Probably a 2-2 result.

Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid: They say all good things must come to an end. Rayo Vallecano are on a impressive form, whereas Real Madrid are on exceptional form. Rayo have notched up 5 wins in 7 games, but Real have been on a steam roller, winning all 8 out of 8 previous games. I don’t see anything else but Real winning this one. Predicting scoreline is like throwing two dice and read the numbers on top. Real can score any no. of goals between 1-6.

Malaga vs Zaragoza: Sunday Lunch time kick off. Zaragoza are at the bottom of the league and on a paper it should be a comfortable win for Malaga. But the football is never played a paper. Although Zaragoza has beaten Espanyol in two weeks back, I don’t think they’ll be able to repeat the miracle. Malaga to win 2-0.

Osasuna vs Granada: Granda are playing good football considering they’ve returned to the top flight after 35 years absence and they’ll go on to beat Osasuna, maybe by a goal to nil.

If all the above predictions come true, then we might see Espanyol pulling themselves clear by just 3 points ahead of Athletic Bilbao. If the same trend and inconsistent form continues in the weeks to come then likes of Seville and newly promoted Betis will join the gang. Whoever presses the panic button will drop out of the race. I guess Levante have already done it.

The joke is, just because everybody is playing badly, cometh the end of the season, they will still have a chance earning themselves a Champions League playoff spot.

Will the real 4th place team please stand up?

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2 comments
  1. Most of the predictions have gone wrong… Levante beat Espanyol, Villarreal v Bilbao draw, Atletico lost to Messi, Osasuna beat Granada, and some came right as Rayo lost to Madrid but with a very tough fight, Malaga beat Zaragoza.
    As an effect of this, the contender for the 4th place is yet to come forth.
    New Standings,
    4: Levante – 35
    5: Bilbao – 34
    6: Malaga – 34
    7: Osasuna – 34
    8: Espanyol – 33
    9: Atletico – 32
    10: Sevilla – 32
    11: Rayo – 31

    this circus is going to the wire.

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