With several issues still to be settled, all matches on the penultimate weekend kicked off at the same time on Sunday. At stake in particular was the last Champions League spot, Valencia the new incumbents after a 3-1 victory against Alavés. Ximo Navarro headed the visitors into an early lead, but strikes by Carlos Soler and Santi Mina turned the scoreline around by the break, and Gameiro rounded things off after the restart. The Ches edged ahead of Getafe on head-to-head goal difference after the Madrid based side lost 2-0 at Barcelona. The Catalans were looking to bounce back after their elimination from the Champions League midweek, and Vidal gave them a first half lead. However the result was in doubt until Arambarri put through his own net under pressure from Messi with two minutes to go. Sevilla are still in with a slight chance of fourth place as well, although they are two points below their two rivals after a 1-1 draw at Atlético Madrid, Sarabia saving a point after Koke had given the locals the lead. The result means that Atleti are sure of second spot.
Sevilla’s main objective next week though is to at least hold on to sixth place to avoid having to play Europa League qualifying rounds. To do so they have to draw or win next weekend against Athletic Bilbao, who moved to within three points of the Andalusians after a 3-1 victory over Celta. The Basque side went three up at the break with two from Raúl García and a third from Williams, and an Aspas penalty came too late to save the result for the visitors. Athletic themselves are defending seventh spot, and a defeat next Saturday would open the way for Real Sociedad and Espanyol to get past them. Real Sociedad won 3-1 this weekend against third placed Real Madrid, with Merino, Zaldua and Barrenetxea getting their goals after Brahim Díaz had opened the scoring for Zidane’s team, a seventeenth defeat of the current campaign signalling Madrid’s worst season in twenty years. And Espanyol beat Leganés 0-2, Borja Iglesias getting both goals there, the second from the penalty spot. Betis though have no chance of returning to Europe this year despite a 2-1 win against bottom club Huesca, Joaquín at least saving some pride with a last minute strike after his opener was cancelled out by a Juanpi penalty.
Further down the table, Girona are all but mathematically relegated after losing 1-2 to Levante. Stuani gave the Catalans hope with a goal on the hour mark, but a Morales header made it all square, and after the referee overturned a decision to award a penalty to the home team after consulting the VAR, Bardhi fired home a late winner to keep his side in the top flight. Villarreal and Valladolid also saved themselves this weekend, the former winning 1-0 against Eibar with a goal from Ekambi, and the latter beating the already relegated Rayo Vallecano 1-2, Sergi Guardiola getting the winner there after Medrán had equalised an Enes Ünal penalty. All of that meant that Girona can only catch Celta next weekend, although to do so the Galicians would have to lose at home to Rayo, and the Catalans would have to win at Alavés and make up a seven goal difference, as the head-to-head record between the two sides is even. (12.05.19)