La Liga: Four things we learned in Spain's Matchday 34 this weekend

Matchday 34 in La Liga felt slightly unbalanced with Real Madrid playing on Friday night and Barcelona not playing

Madrid, April 29 (IANS) Matchday 34 in La Liga felt slightly unbalanced with Real Madrid playing on Friday night and Barcelona not playing until Monday, but sandwiched between the two sides, there was plenty to comment on. Here are four things that we learned from the action in Spanish topflight this weekend:

1. Real Madrid’s fringe players make their case

Carlo Ancelotti made sweeping changes to the side that won 1-0 away to Real Sociedad on Friday night, but his fringe players still did enough to take a narrow (and slightly fortunate win) thanks to Arda Guler’s first-half goal, reports Xinhua. The 18-year-old Turk has struggled to make an impact after injuries following his arrival in Spain but showed his undoubted quality with a calm finish from Dani Carvajal’s pass.

There had been talk of Guler leaving on loan next season, but after the game, Ancelotti made it clear he would be staying, although the likely arrivals of Mbappe and Endrick mean he could still struggle to get enough game-time.

2. Atletico takes big step

Two deflected goals helped Atletico Madrid to a 3-1 win at home to Athletic Club and all but ensure that they will play in next season’s Champions League. Rodrigo de Paul’s shot was going wide before it deflected in off Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta, while Samuel Limo’s shot bounced into the net off Athletic keeper Unai Simon.

However, the headlines in the game came after racist insults aimed at Athletic’s Nico Williams from a sector of Atletico’s ‘ultra’ Frente Atletico supporters.

Members of this same group have previously been responsible for several racist incidents aimed at Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr and the question has to be asked. After other clubs have expelled radical groups from their grounds, why does Atletico Madrid continue to tolerate a group who, time after time, show their racism?

3. Girona is one step from glory

Girona’s 2-0 win away to a Las Palmas side in freefall lifted them to second in the table ahead of Barcelona’s match on Monday and means they have 71 points from 33 matches.

Girona’s win and Athletic Club’s defeat to Atletico Madrid means that a win for Girona or a defeat for Athletic, will see it qualify for next season’s Champions League. That is an incredible achievement for the club from the north-east of Spain, that not so long ago was playing semi-professional football.

Although their agreement with Manchester City is indeed an important help, supplying players such as Yan Couto and Savio, the work of coach Michel Sanchez, who has imposed an attacking style of football on his side, can’t be underestimated and Girona have thrilled and entertained all season.

4. Bad weekend for Cadiz

Cadiz’s 1-1 draw at home to Mallorca on Sunday looks like a chance missed for the side third from bottom of La Liga. A win over Sunday’s rival would have lifted Cadiz to just three points from safety, but the draw means they are still six behind Mallorca and five from Celta, who lost to Alaves on Saturday.

Cadiz’s main problem isn’t just that it has to make up five points in five games, but that their next game is away to Real Madrid and that will probably mean another week without closing the gap.

–IANS

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