Barcelona’s dismal league form continued with a 2-0 reverse at Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday night.
The Catalan giants, impressive in midweek against Manchester United in Europe, succumbed to second-half goals from Juan Rodriguez and Pablo Amo. The domestic season cannot end too soon for Barca.
By contrast, Real Madrid’s imperious form continues. They convincingly overcame Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at the Bernabeau, with goals from Javier Saviola, Arjen Robben and Gonzalo Higuain.
A first-half strike from Spanish midfielder Senna meant Villareal secured all three points in a 1-0 defeat of Real Betis in Seville. The result keeps them in second place, ten points behind Real Madrid, whose retention of the championship is likely to be confirmed after the next round of matches.
Racing Santander suffered a setback in their bid to secure an unlikely European Cup spot. Late goals from Oscar Trejo and Guiza gave Real Mallorca a 3-1 win over Racing, who will have taken some consolation in the failure of 4th-placed Atletico Madrid to take all three points from their encounter with Getafe, which finished 1-1. Unlike the title race, this particular contest looks set to run until the final day of the season.
Valencia managed a long-overdue win in their struggle to avoid the humiliation of relegation. Tipped by some pundits as dark horses for the championship, Valencia have endured a disastrous season and currently find themselves hovering dangerously close to the relegation places. A 3-0 home win over Osasuna, courtesy of goals by David Villa, Mata and Joaquin, will have eased some nerves, although Valencia remain only four points about the relegation places.
After a good recent run, Levante’s relegation was confirmed after a 2-0 defeat at Recreativo. The result pulls Recreativo out of the relegation places, leapfrogging Real Zaragoza, for whom a late Ricardo Oliveira goal earned a point at Espayol in a 1-1 draw.
Murcia, who drew 0-0 at home to Sevilla, are ten points adrift of safety and look certain to join Levante in the second division next season. The third relegation place could be filled by any one of about eight sides in a very congested bottom half of the table.
By Houman Barekat