Will we see the end to this La Liga season? Right now everything is on hold as players’ union (AFE) has called for a strike. The strike was then backed up by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) who halted all competition starting on May 16. So what happened? Who are the key players? What will end up happening? Last week a new law was passed in Spain regarding collective bargaining for the domestic television rights. This law mandated that the revenue from domestic TV rights be shared among all of the teams. Currently, the teams are able to individually negotiate their TV rights. This is unique to La Liga. Following this law, the AFE and RFEF have called for a halt of play. The Spanish Professional League (LFP) is now trying to overturn the decision by the RFEF to halt play. The AFE is upset that they are not seeing any share of the revenue like in England. The RFEF feels that there has been a “lack of respect” shown by the government and that they were not consulted properly. This will be interesting to see how it plays out, as collective bargaining could go a long way to helping lower table and lower division teams of the league gain some finances and exposure. The last two rounds of the league have been suspended for now, as has the Copa Del Rey final. With the Copa America coming up, a decision needs to be made soon as to what should be done with the end of the season and with the TV money.
The Champions League returns this week. This is the last midweek round of the Champions League and a spot in Berlin is on the line. Both of the home teams will look to overcome their defeats on the road. Who will advance to the final? Will we see another all Spanish affair? Can Bayern overturn their 3-0 defeat? Will an Italian side return to the final for the first time since Jose won it with Internazionale? All of these questions will be answered this week. I cannot wait to watch and see how it all plays out.
The top 4 is now set in England. While mathematically Liverpool can catch United for fourth, the race is over. Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United will play in the Champions League. We also now know two of the teams that will be relegated. Burnley and QPR will be playing in the Championship next season. The only thing really left to play for is the final relegation spot in England. Hull City currently sits in that spot. They are two points behind Newcastle and Sunderland and 3 points behind Leicester. This weekend, Fellaini all but guaranteed Champions League football with his late winner over Crystal Palace. Manchester City put 6 past QPR. Chelsea and Liverpool played to a 1-1 draw with the goals coming from both of the club’s legends in Terry and Gerrard. Sunderland, Leicester, and Villa all got vital wins.
In Italy, the race for the final 3 spots just got a little tighter this weekend as Lazio were beaten 2-1 by Inter, and Roma was beaten 2-1 by AC Milan. Napoli however, was not able to completely capitalize as they could only draw 2-2 with bottom club Parma. Napoli is now just 3 points behind Lazio and 4 points behind Roma. At the bottom end of the table, Parma have been relegated for some time now and Cesena will join them in Serie B. Cagliari is not mathematically eliminated, but with they are currently 8 points behind Atalanta. They will need to win all of their remaining games. Atalanta needs just 2 points to guarantee they stay up.
The race in France might be over as Caen may have played spoiler. With just 2 games left, PSG can win the title next weekend with a win or draw. This is due to their 6-0 win over Guingamp, combined with Caen beating Lyon 3-0. PSG now has a 6 point lead and just 2 games left to play. The race for the third and final spot is heating up as Marseille beat Monaco 2-1. This means that the two teams are now just separated by 2 points. St. Etienne also stays in the race following their 5-0 win over Nice. It will be a fascinating two weeks. At the bottom end of the table, Lens and Metz are relegated to Ligue 2. Evian sit in the final spot and are 4 points behind Stade Reims. This gap was expanded this weekend when Stade Reims beat Evian 3-2 this weekend. Caen, Lorient, Toulouse, and Stade Reims all won this weekend to give them some breathing room. You have to think a point for any of them will keep them up.
In Germany, Bayern Munich has now lost 4 games in a row following their 1-0 loss to Augsburg. With the top 4 set for next season, the only thing left to play for at the top end is a group stage spot versus a playoff spot. Wolfsburg will be in the group stage next season. Monchengladbach needs just 2 points to clinch their spot. Bayer will need to win all of their remaining games and hope others drop points to get into the group stage. The Europa League spots are still in play with Augsburg and Schalke currently in them. Dortmund and Werder Bremen sit just 2 points from these spots. My new favorite stat of the season is that just 16 points separate 5th from 18th (bottom) in Germany. The difference from 5th to 1st is 30 points. At the bottom end of the table, Stuttgart got a huge three points when they beat Mainz 2-0. They are now just 1 point from safety. Mainz needs a point to be safe from relegation, but everyone below them is in a fight. Hertha Berlin sits 3 points clear of the relegation spots, but they are just 4 points from the bottom. Hamburger is 1 point clear. Freiburg is safe due to goal difference. Hannover sits in the relegation/promotion play-off spot. Paderborn is currently 17th. With two games to go, the table could shit dramatically. Looking forward, Stuttgart host Hamburger next weekend in the big 6 pointer.
Lastly, the Spanish title is one step closer to being resolved this weekend thanks to Diego Alves and Valencia. Early Saturday morning in the States, Barcelona put two past Real Sociedad including a stunner from Pedro. This extended the Barcelona lead at the top of the table to 5 points. Real Madrid then faced off with Valencia. Before anyone knew what had happened, Valencia was up 2-0. Real was able to fight back and got a beautiful strike from Isco. However, they could not find a third and ending up drawing 2-2. The lead is now 4 points, and a win in either of Barcelona’s remaining games will mean that the title is theirs. Sevilla still remains 3 points adrift of Valencia following their 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo. At the bottom end of the table, Cordoba is relegated to Liga Adelante. However, who will join them remains to be seen. 3 teams are level on 31 points in Deportivo, Granada, and Eibar. Almeria sits just 1 point ahead of them. Whenever the season resumes it should be a good race to the finish.