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The Fight For Europe: two six-pointers ahead

No room for error for the Submarine.

Villarreal’s Santi Cazorla (4) celebra
Just as an aside, did anyone remember Santi wearing #4? I didn’t. (this is 2005 UEFA Cup vs Dinamo Kyiv)
Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Here’s where we stand with four matches left (home matches in bold, as if that matters)

Villarreal 54 Getafe Real Sociedad Real Madrid Eibar

Getafe 53 Villarreal Alavès Atletico Madrid Levante

Real Sociedad 51 Granada Villarreal Sevilla Atletico Madrid

Athletic Club 48 Sevilla Levante Leganés Granada

Valencia 47 Valladolid Leganés Espanyol Sevilla

Sevilla are probably going to finish fourth, so I am going to focus only on the Europa League. I said on the pod the other week I thought 58 points would do it, and it still could, but if Villarreal win their next two matches to get to 60, that would virtually clench it.

Then we would have the tiebreaks over both Getafe and La Real, and could finish no worse than 6th unless Athletic Club run the table—probably not that likely—but if they do, they have the tiebreak over us and would be on 60 points.

If Villarreal draw one and win one of the next two, then it’s less certain—we have to win versus Eibar to get to 61. (It would be better to draw against Getafe and defeat La Real than the other way round, because of the tiebreaks).

Losing one of the next two matches would be bad, and drawing both isn’t great either because then the only way we get to 60 involves a point against Madrid and winning against Eibar. True, the other teams have tough matches ahead, but you’d like to control your own destiny.

We might be able to finish seventh, but whether that would get a European place is unsure—it depends on when the Copa del Rey final can be played and who wins it.

Keep in mind: Finishing in fifth place would be highly desirable. Usually the Copa winner has been a team that is qualifying for the Champions League, so all that happens is that their group-stage spot is taken by the 6th place team and it’s the 7th placed team that has to go through a playoff round.

That is NOT true this year, and it’s even more difficult because of the COVID-19 reduction of the summer season. 5th place qualifies for the group stage; the Copa winner (whoever it is) qualifies for the group stage; 6th place goes through three rounds of one-legged playoffs to get to the group stage. (If the 6th-placed team is the Copa winner, then 7th would go through these playoffs instead). Anyhow, if we can take 6 points from our next 2 matches, I think we’re probably good for 5th. Endavant!!