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12.04.2010 12:05

Spanish League Roundup: Week 31

John Chaplin

In a weekend dominated by Barca’s thrilling victory in the Bernabeu, Valencia went down to Mallorca while Sevilla and Bilbao kept the pressure on with wins against Malaga and Almeria respectively.

At the bottom of the table, Jerez’s attempts to escape the drop suffered a blow when they lost 1-0 at home to Getafe whilst fellow relegation strugglers Tenerife and Valladolid drew 0-0 in the Canary Islands, a result that does neither side any good.

Returning to the top third, wins for both Sevilla and Mallorca keep the fight for fourth place extremely tight with both teams on 51 points and separated only by their head-to-head goal difference. Despite losing 3-2 away to Mallorca, Valencia remain secure in third place, five points clear of their pursuers.

Meanwhile, Sevilla scored twice in the final half hour away to Malaga to cancel out a first half strike from the home side and secure their second consecutive league victory after a run of eight games in all competitions without a win.

Bilbao eying Champions League

Meanwhile, Athletic Club Bilbao hit four past Almeria in the opening 50 minutes of their match in San Mames before Piatti scored a consolation goal for the visitors some 19 minutes from time. The Basques are in sixth place, just three points short of a Champions League finish.

Two points behind Bilbao in seventh place come Villarreal, who have recovered from a disastrous start to the season to mount a determined challenge for a Europa League finish. They secured a narrow 1-0 win at home to Sporting.

Another team that has gradually improved after a terrible opening phase of the campaign is Atletico Madrid. However, despite winning their Europa League quarterfinal tie against Valencia (the prize, a semi-final blockbuster against Liverpool and former club idol Fernando Torres) in midweek, Atletico put up only feeble resistance against Espanyol and collapsed to a 3-0 defeat in the brand new Cornella Stadium to the south of Barcelona. With just seven games to go, both sides seem destined to finish the season well clear of the drop zone but with no aspirations of finishing in the top six.

Deportivo need Camp Nou revival

Meanwhile, Deportivo – who travel to the Camp Nou on Wednesday – continued an alarming slump in results that had seen them lose the four matches before this weekend’s clash with Racing in the Riazor. This time they could only manage a 1-1 draw against a Racing side that is still only six points above Tenerife in the last relegation place. Deportivo (ninth) are now five points behind Bilbao in sixth place and desperately need a positive result against Barca to maintain any real hope of European football next season.

A workmanlike performance from Osasuna was enough to see off Zaragoza (2-0) in Pamplona and calm the nerves of the local fans who could see the relegation zone getting closer and closer as the weeks passed. For their part, Zaragoza are still not safe though they retain a six and seven point cushion respectively over Tenerife and Valladolid.

Finally, Jerez seem to be running out of time to save their first division status. On Saturday they conceded a 0-1 home defeat to Getafe and now face the uphill task of closing an eight-point gap with Malaga with just 21 points in play. To their credit, a few weeks ago few people would have imagined that Jerez would still have any chance of survival at this late stage in the season.
Spanish League Roundup: Week 31

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