28th May 2024

La Liga: Girona, Rayo Vallecano, Huesca relegated; Bale denied farewell

The last match of the season in La Liga ended in 2-2 on Sunday, as FC Barcelona drew away to EibarBarça had already secured the championship after comfortably securing a 26th league title after a narrow win against Levante some weeks ago. The title is their eighth in the last 11 years.

The draw means that Barça have finished with 87 points, six less than last year, although still 11 clear of Atletico Madrid and 19 ahead of Real Madrid.

Ernesto Valverde‘s side will bid for a fifth consecutive Copa del Rey next weekend, but nothing will make up for the sense of disappointment still lingering from their defeat in the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool.

Real Madrid delivered a dire end to their dreadful season, and Gareth Bale was not even given the chance to say a likely farewell, as Zinedine Zidane‘s side were beaten 2-0 at home to Real Betis on Sunday.

Zidane had already indicated this could be Bale’s final game. The Welshman was finally left on the bench, and could simply look on as three substitutes came on ahead of him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

As Real Madrid players saluted fans at the end, they were greeted by whistles. By then, Gareth Bale was already off down the tunnel, perhaps aware that any attempt at a farewell could have been greeted with louder whistles.

Asked after the match whether Gareth Bale deserved a chance to play one last game, Zidane said: ‘I’m sorry he didn’t get to play, but no-one knows what will happen.

‘If I think a player doesn’t fit in the team I have to do what I think works best. No-one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present.

‘I have counted on other players in more in recent weeks, and if I had a fourth substitute today I would not have brought him on.

‘I make these decisions when it is right to do so, and I must act in the best interests of the team at all times.’

Zidane will not be held responsible for most of Madrid’s poor performances this season, including finishing third, 19 points behind Barça and 8 behind Atletico Madrid, not to mention crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16.

He will also not be blamed for their league total of 68 points, their lowest in 17 years, nor the 12 defeats. Real Madrid have not had more in a single league campaign since 1974.

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale remained on the bench in Real Madrid’s last match of the season (Agencies)

But even if few expected all the problems to disappear after Zidane’s arrival in March, most fans would have hoped at least for signs of improvement.

Instead, they have now won five of his 11 games in charge this season and out of the last five have won one and lost three. Some of the displays were as bad as anything seen under either Julen Lopetegui or Santiago Solari.

Valencia secure Champions League spot; Griezmann jeered

On Saturday, Valencia held their nerve to secure La Liga‘s last Champions League place as a 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid ended the hopes of Getafe and Sevilla of snatching fourth.

Getafe would have had to better Valencia’s result as they faced Villarreal, while Sevilla had needed to beat Athletic Bilbao and hope both Getafe and Valencia lost.

Sevilla did their part by seeing off Bilbao 2-0 while Getafe drew 2-2, but Valencia ensured those results did not matter and reached the Champions League for a second consecutive year.

Valencia ended up seven points behind Real Madrid, and 15 adrift of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who drew 2-2 away at Levante, with Antoine Griezmann jeered in his final match for the club.

Griezmann was whistled at the City of Valencia Stadium by visiting fans, who were also heard chanting ‘out, out, out’ before goals from Sergio Camello and Rodrigo ensured Atletico ended the season with a point.

Diego Simeone’s side finished runners up with 76 points. They come in above Real Madrid for a second consecutive year but end up 12 points behind Barcelona, after their draw at Eibar.

Espanyol club celebrate
Espanyol players and staff celebrating that they’ll be playing in the Europa League. (Photo courtesy of rcdespanyol.com)

Getafe, Sevilla and Espanyol qualify for Europa League

After 11 weeks in the top four, fifth place and the Europa League might come as a disappointment for Getafe, even for a team promoted to the top flight only two seasons ago.

Sevilla qualify for the Europa League too, finishing sixth after Ben Yedder and Munir El Haddadi extinguished Bilbao’s own hopes of European football next season.

Getafe and Sevilla are joined by Espanyol, whose fans invaded the pitch when the full-time whistle blew at Cornella, where a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad means the Catalan side clinched seventh.

Girona, Rayo Vallecano and Huesca relegated

At the bottom of La Liga, Girona join Rayo Vallecano and Huesca in being relegated after they were beaten 2-1 away at Alaves.

Going into the final weekend of the season, Girona’s chances of avoiding relegation were already slim and were dealt a further blow during the week with the news of an injury to their top scorer Cristhian Stuani, ruling him out of the game.

Girona FC
Girona’s Montilivi Stadium (Xavier Pi / via ACN)

There will be a bitter disappointment to how the season ended in north Catalonia, as Girona sat comfortably mid-table at the halfway point of the season.

A run of nine losses in 11 matches saw the club fall into peril going into the last day, and their relegation was ultimately confirmed in Mendizorrotza Stadium this weekend.

‘This is a very difficult moment and the first thing I want to do is take responsibility myself,’ manager Eusebio Sacristán said following last week’s loss at home to Levante, which all but sealed their fate.

‘I’ve let a lot of people down, those who’ve had so much confidence in me, the club management, the players, the fans, and ultimately, all who love this great club,’ Sacristán lamented.

Spanish La Liga results up to Sunday 19 May

Played Sunday 19 May

Real Madrid 0 Real Betis 2

Eibar Barcelona 2

Played Saturday 18 May

Levante Atletico Madrid 2

Espanyol 2 Real Sociedad 0

Getafe 2 Villarreal 2

Real Valladolid 0 Valencia 2

Sevilla 2 Athletic Bilbao 0

Alaves 2 Girona 1

Celta Vigo Rayo Vallecano 2

Huesca 2 Leganes 1


La Liga Table – final positions

(Played, Won, Drawn, Lost, Goals For/Against, Points)

Barcelona                 38  26   9   3  90  36  87

Atletico Madrid       38  22  10  6  55  29  76

Real Madrid            38  21   5  12  63  46  68

Valencia                  38  15  16  7  51  35   61

Getafe                      38  15  14  9  48  35  59

Sevilla                      38  17   8  13  62  47  59

Espanyol                 38  14  11  13  48  50  53

Athletic Bilbao       38  13  14  11  41  45  53

Real Sociedad       38  13  11  14  45  46  50

Real Betis              38  14   8   16  44  52  50

Alaves                    38  13  11  14  39  50  50

Eibar                       38  11  14  13  46  50  47

Leganes                 38  11  13  13  44  48  46

Villarreal                38   10  14 14  49  52  44

Levante                  38   11  11  16  59  66  44

Valladolid              38   10  11  17  32  51  41

Celta Vigo              38  10  11  17  53  62  41

Girona                     38   9   10  19  37  53  37

SD Huesca              38  7  12  19  43  65  33

Rayo Vallecano      38  8   8   22  41  70  32


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