The final stretch: a look at the run-in

A close look at Atlético's final matches of the campaign

Espanyol beat Athletic and are back in the race(

Espanyol beat Athletic and are back in the race

The domestic season is coming to an end, and while Barcelona could wrap up the La Liga title next week, there are still other battles to be fought with four matches left to play.

Atlético need a miracle if they are to qualify for the Champions League. Villarreal would have to lose three of their four remaining games to give Atleti any hope of playing in Europe’s top competition. Instead, Atlético will have to focus on qualifying for the Europa League.

As Barcelona and Real Madrid both reached the Copa del Rey final, seventh in the league is now a European spot, however this does require an extra preliminary round with matches to be played on July 28th and August 4th. This would be bad news for Atleti, as the club plans to tour Asia this summer.

Upon our return we would play various friendlies inside Spain, before the league commences on the weekend of August 28th.

Atlético have four more games in the race to finish in 5th, starting with Málaga on Saturday. All of the teams we are set to face are fighting to avoid relegation, but Málaga seem to have found some form right in time to avoid the drop. They haven’t lost in four matches and have collected 16 out of a possible 21 points. The resurgence is undoubtedly linked with the return of Brazilian international Julio Baptista, who joined Málaga in January but has only recently recovered from injury.

Then on Tuesday we play Racing Santander at el Sardinero in a midweek round of La Liga. In our last three games in Cantabria, Atleti took only one point, conceding 9 goals. However, we should be able to count on Diego Forlán who has scored four times in his three visits to Racing.

On the 15th or 16th of May we play the last home match of the season against Hércules, who might already be down by the time they travel to Madrid. They are currently languishing in 19th place, five points from safety. We expect the Vicente Calderón to be rocking on this final home game!

In the final weekend of this campaign we travel to Mallorca. We haven’t won on the sunny island since 29 February 2004, when Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the game.

Our rivals

La Liga Standings[table id= 7/]

Whether we finish in the spot we aim for depends not only on our opponents, but also on our rivals for the Europa League places. Because of poor results against them this season, Atleti will have to finish at least one point ahead, because La Liga is decided on head-to-head records when teams are level on points.

Last night Athletic and Espanyol crossed swords in Bilbao with the visitors coming away with the win, meaning they are now back in the race for 5th place.

Espanyol have a very tough schedule. Besides taking on Sevilla on the final day they also have fixtures against Barcelona (away), Valencia (home) and Zaragoza (away). Out of the Europa League teams, Espanyol clearly have the hardest run-in.

In recent history Sevilla has become, without a doubt, Atlético’s second biggest rival. But perhaps the one club we like even less can do us a favour. This weekend Sevilla play Real Madrid at home, before travelling to Osasuna, hosting Real Sociedad and ending the season at Espanyol.

Athletic Bilbao have a similar schedule to us, as they face mostly teams battling in the lower half of the table. First they play Levante, who have already secured survival, before facing Deportivo (away), Málaga (home) and Racing (away).

Against Sevilla, Athletic and Espanyol we have a negative head-to-head record, so we will have to make sure to collect more points than them in the coming weeks in order to take possession of 5th place.

In which position do you think Atlético will end up?

  • Javi

    5th because we will win our remaining games except a tie with Racing, and although Sevilla will win most games they will loose to Real Madrid

  • Gert

    If we get lucky and Villareal loses 2 times and draw one time, and we win all, we end up with the same points but we have a positive head-to-head result which would takes us to CL :-))

    just dreaming of course…..

  • Gert

    Crap, just realised I was wrong…

  • palc

    Can’t believe our “bad” luck. Villarreal snatched all three points agaist Zaragoza after converting a penalty after an extremely clumsy tackle from Ponzio the clown. And their previous match against Getafe they were lucky not to have gone 0-2 down. A game they won 2-1 in the end. We wouldve been only three points behind if things went our way.

  • Villarreal has tremendously much of luck! I honestly just want Atlético to join any competition even if we by some tremendous luck end up in Champions League or Europa League, I just want to see Colchoneros competing. One more thing, which is nagging a bit maybe but please, please keep Forlán, have him as a starter because Costa is shit. Just sayin’…

  • palc

    Forlan is unfortunately shit now too. I say get rid of both Diegos. Bring in Lamela/Honda/Turan to play behind Kun. With Salvio and Reyes on the wings. Its as easy as that.

  • To sell Forlan would be hard as hell – there are very few clubs capable of paying his salary, and I can see no reason why would he agree to lower it. He has a great contract at Atletico so unless he will get a really good offer he stays with us, like it or not.

    And buying any of the Lamela/Honda/Turan trio will be also very difficult and costly. reported recently that Lamela got just bought by anonymous group of investors for 14 mln, so I doubt they will be willing to sell him for anything less than 16 mln. Not to mention remaining 10% of the right to Lamela that is owned by agency IMG (btw arent they the guys from Kun?). And Hunda and Turan are non-EU.

  • I’d get rid of Costa, because that Osasuna hat trick was then and probably, I can guess never again. Forlán as Urban says has a good salary, he would be hard to sell, and he can still own on the field when he gets back to form. Hehe age is just a number, look at Di Natale, he’s perhaps old in his 30’s or something but he still leads or has been leading scorer boards in this seasons Serie A.

  • Ringo Schut

    True that, but when/if they have all of Aguero, Reyes, Piatti and Salvio, is Forlan really needed? Those guys, except for, of course, Aguero, have a lower salary, are younger (the Argentine trio much younger). Choosing for the future would be voting for a Forlan-departure.
    I also wouldn’t mind getting rid of Costa, but that depends on Salvio. I want to see Toto the most, but I have more trust in Costa than I have in Adrian… Perhaps a new contract for Costa, raising his price tag and sell him in a year or two for 7-10 million, with a chance to see Borja starting to shine!

    Your Di Natale story is a good argument, but I think it’s time for Forlan to close the Atleti-chapter.
    Hopefully Tottenham still wants to get him…

    If Aguero leaves (I don’t see that happening, but still), it’s probably better to keep the Uruguayan wizard, but for now I’d rather see him go.

  • palc

    Don’t even mention Aguero leaving..

  • Hehe trauma argument “Don’t even mention Agüero leaving…”
    And yes Ringo I agree, but we’ll see, if and who goes…

  • george

    atleti should shell diego forlan,diego costa,ujfalusi and assunsao{and maybe raul garcia) and should bring at vicente calderon one quality Defensive Midfie,one quality right back and three of lamela, salvio, piati, turan, honda, quaresma, gervinho, rondon, baptista, arshavin, anderson or di natale.And of course it’s time to see borja taking chances in first team squad.

  • Fantasy football my dear friend!

  • starvs

    If Forlan would be happy to come back/happy with the new coach I would welcome him back with open arms and it would be the best move. He’s only 31 and he was just dominant less than a year ago, he will be back. You see those volleys in the exhibition game last week? He’s still got it laying around somewhere…

    Costa def needs to go if Forlan stays, he is simply not good enough to justify taking up a non-EU spot.

    George, why would you ever put a condition on selling Raul Garcia?

    Also, any final verdict on if Turkish people count against the EU spot or not? There was some ambiguity about the court case if I remember correctly.