Some weeks you look at the matchday schedule and you feel confident that key rivals in the table will drop points. Unfortunately, this is not one of those weekends. Villarreal have bottom of the table Espanyol on the docket and the match is an absolute must win for the Yellow Submarine if they intend on returning to Europe next season. Not only is the fixture with Espanyol one that most rivals are likely to win throughout the rest of the season, but all the other teams competing for Europa spots have favorable matchups as well.
Assuming a team in European qualification wins the Copa Del Rey, Villarreal will need to be in at least 7th position if they intend on competing in the Europa League next season. The good news is that they are only two points away from that post, the bad news is that five La Liga teams are between 28 and 31 points (and there are teams at 27 and 26 points as well).
Real Sociedad, in fifth place, get one of the tougher matchups of the competitors with 13th place Real Betis on the docket. Sixth and seventh places Valencia and Getafe get relegation placed Mallorca and Leganes, respectively. Eighth place Athletic Club get Celta Vigo who is sitting one place above the relegation zone. Of the teams in serious striking distance of Europa, only Granada has a likely loss this week as they face Barcelona.
Some matchday weekends you survive, get what you can, and move on. Weeks like this one where you get handed a terrible team and all your rivals are likely to win? These are the weeks that define who goes to Europe and who stays home. Given how poorly a mostly first choice lineup played in our last outing in the Copa Del Rey, I hope they are ready to play on Sunday.