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Villarreal in La Liga: an update

On January 1st I divided our fixtures into six categories and tried to figure out what sort of point total we might end up with. We've played 8 matches since that post, so here's an update, together with a look at Malaga's schedule.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

This season in La Liga is shaping up to be an odd one in terms of the distribution of points among the 20 teams, with a big gap between seventh and eighth.  That's making the chase for the Champions League spots rather more difficult, and is probably making our achievements so far seem rather less than they've been.

Here's an update of our remaining fixture list:

1) Away matches against sides in bottom half of the table (3): Depor, Almeria, and Getafe.

(2) Home matches against teams in bottom third of table (2):  Cordoba and Elche.

(3) Home matches against somewhat better teams (2): Celta, Espanyol

(4) More difficult but still winnable home matches (3): Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Malaga

(5) More difficult but winnable, or at least drawable, away matches (2): Athletic Club and La Real

(6) Away matches we shouldn't expect much from (2): Valencia,  Real Madrid.

Any points dropped from the first three categories (7 matches) need to be made up with points from the last three (7 matches): that would give us 65 points.

It is looking difficult to get to fourth unless Valencia suddenly stops grinding out ugly wins and we can win in the Mestalla.

Fifth is certainly achievable, and there are advantages to finishing fifth rather than sixth, even though both qualify for the Europa League.  Our main rival appears to be Malaga, and Sevilla are just ahead of us.

Malaga: I also wrote that "Like us, they have nine remaining matches in the "should win" category: Almeria, Getafe, Cordoba, Depor and Elche (home); Levante, Granada, Rayo, Almeria (away).    So if you want to start scoreboard watching, seeing how they do in those matches is a good place to start."

Malaga's form has been strange, to say the least.  They lost to Almeria at home, lost to Levante away (as well as Espanyol).  But they beat Valencia and Barcelona, to get those six points back, and drew at home against Athletic Club and Villarreal.

They still have Granada, Rayo and Almeria on the road (category 1),  Getafe, Cordoba, Depor and Elche at home (category 2).  Also La Real at home, who are difficult to evaluate.  Their other home ties are against Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, like us.  Their other away ties are at Eibar, Real Madrid, Villarreal and Celta.

Keep in mind their next four matches are all ones in the "should win" category; only two of ours are.   If they drop points in the next month, that would be really nice!

Note too that Sevilla still have to play all of the top three.  Admittedly, they are all at home, but still....  They also play Villarreal and Malaga on the road.  A tough run-in, especially if they continue in the Europa League, and they cannot afford to drop points against lesser sides.