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La Liga: Four things we learned in Spain's matchday 31 (analysis)

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Madrid, April 11 (IANS) Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Sevilla all won this weekend in La Liga in a round of matches which leaves everything more or less as it was at the top of the table.

Here are some things we learned this weekend in Spain.

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1. Real Madrid take a step nearer to the title

Real Madrid maintain their 12-point lead at the top of La Liga thanks to a 2-0 win at home to Getafe on Saturday night. It wasn’t a particularly exciting game and the result was never in doubt after Casemiro opened the scoring in the 38th minute.

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Although Carlo Ancelotti rested Luka Modric and Toni Kroos and was without Ferland Mendy, Getafe travelled to the Bernabeu as if they were making their yearly trip to the dentists — something to be suffered with as little pain as possible — and concentrated on keeping the score down.

That’s perfect for Ancelotti and his men, who have eight more games in the season and are another step closer to the title.

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2. Respect for De Jong

FC Barcelona looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw away to a spirited Levante on Sunday night when Luuk de Jong popped up to head home the winning goal in injury time and give them a 3-2 win.

The big striker’s arrival in the summer was greeted with confusion and even dismay as he seemed far from a typical Barca striker and it’s fair to say he had a lot of problems adapting.

However, De Jong has never let his head drop and has earned a certain cult status at the club with some vital goals.

He now has six goals in 16 league appearances — many of those as a substitute — and those six goals have earned six points for the club, making the difference between clinging onto the title race and struggling to get into the top-four.

3. Top six places look to be almost decided

The 1-1 draw between seventh-place Villarreal and eighth-placed Athletic Club Bilbao will have been welcomed by the sides above them, all of whom except for Atletico Madrid, claimed three points in their respective matches.

That means that sixth-placed Real Sociedad have an eight-point lead over Villarreal with eight games to play and (unless Valencia win the Copa del Rey) should at worst qualify for next season’s Europa League.

However, with the team from San Sebastian just three points behind fourth-place Atletico Madrid and Betis just a point behind Atletico, the big battle between now and the end of the season will be to see who qualifies for the Champions League.

4. New coach, same result for Alaves

Julio Velazquez’s debut as Alaves coach ended in very much the same way as the most of his side’s games this season — in a defeat after a howling defensive mistake.

Only Levante have conceded more goals than Alaves’ 53 goals against this campaign and if Valazquez’s predecessor, Jose Luis Mendilibar wasn’t able to tighten them up at the back, it’s unlikely anyone can.

Once again a loss of concentration and an individual error cost Alaves dear and no chopping and changing of coach will cure that. The bottom of the table side have had 10 different coaches since the summer of 2017 and it’s clear that the problems are not all the fault of the different men in the dugout.

–IANS

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