La Liga Wrap Up: All is decided

The curtain has come down on the 2014/15 La Liga season following the completion of Matchday 38, and with it comes our last La Liga Wrap Up for the season. With a three-way tie for the final relegation spot, Eibar have been relegated despite a 3-0 win by virtue of head to head after Granada and Deportivo La Coruña both recorded draws. Valencia ensured they will return to the Champions League with a 3-2 win at Almeria, while Athletic Bilbao capped their late-season resurgence with a 4-0 hammering of Australia-bound Villarreal to lock up the final Europa League place and another Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick cemented his spot at the top of the Pichichi standings.

It was a case of too little too late for SD Eibar, whose 3-0 victory over Cordoba was only their second win in the final 20 matches of the season, meaning that they depended on other results to ensure their survival. But with Depor facing Barcelona at the Camp Nou on the final day, they thought they could depend on the champions securing another three points.

They made sure their part of the job was done early, with three first-half goals more or less killing the contest before half-time. Mikel Arrurabarrena opened the scoring after six minutes with a header after a long diagonal ball was volleyed back across goal before Raul Navas nodded in Javi Lara’s corner to make it 2-0 five minutes later. Ander Capa made it 3-0 after half an hour and with news filtering through that Barcelona were ahead against Deportivo La Coruña the Ipurua was rocking.

Xavi’s farewell and the league-winning celebration was going according to script as Leo Messi opened the scoring at the Camp Nou after just five minutes, finishing Rafinha’s far-post cross with a free header. Depor were lucky to keep the score at 1-0 going into half-time as Messi had one ruled out for a debatable offside call, while Fabricio made a tremendous double-save to foil the Argentinian’s long-range shot and Pedro’s follow up on the rebound.

The Blaugrana eventually found the second that their play deserved when Neymar gifted Messi a tap-in following a counter-attack; not for the first time this season.

Xavi, after his final league game for Barcelona.
Xavi, after his final league game for Barcelona.

Staring at relegation with 30 minutes to play, Depor rallied against a Catalan side with virtually nothing to play for, and Lucas Perez found the top corner with an exceptional strike on the turn to give the Galician side belief. Nine minutes later and they were level. Substitute Haris Medunjanin’s free-kick hit the wall and his follow up effort was again blocked, but the rebound that fell to Diogo Salomao was rifled into the bottom corner and an unlikely survival was on the cards.

While all this was going on, Granada, the only other team that could potentially go down, and Atleti played out one of those “mutually beneficial” draws. The match finished 0-0 to ensure Granada survived and Atleti cemented third place and a guaranteed spot in the Champions League group stage.

While there was certainly nothing spectacular about the match, the result meant Granada pulled off one of the most unlikely escapes in recent memory following 21 consecutive weeks in the relegation zone, moving into 17th place on the second-last day and doing just enough to remain there at the end of the season thanks to 10 points from their final four games. New manager Jose Ramon Sandoval, on a one month contract, has been in charge for those four games.

A fan's perspective of Granada's pitch invasion following their 0-0 draw with Atleti.
A fan’s perspective of Granada’s pitch invasion following their 0-0 draw with Atleti.

News of Depor’s late comeback was getting through to the Basque Country – meanwhile Xavi was given a final standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd as he was substituted late on – and with the score remaining 2-2 in Barcelona, and Granada and Atleti’s scoreless stalemate, Eibar’s 3-0 victory was worthless as they were relegated in their first stint in the top-flight via the head to head rule with all three teams finishing on 35 points.

There is no shame in the league’s smallest club going down – and they were the smallest in the Segunda last season too – and the fact that the club fought to the very end was enough for the fans who showed their appreciation at the full-time whistle. But with 27 points at the halfway mark, only winning eight in the following 19 matches, it must still be a little sore.

At the other end of the table Valencia secured fourth place and a Champions League berth with a 3-2 win over Almeria, who, thanks to uncertainty around whether or not they were being docked three points, were still not certain of relegation – if they were deducted, they would be on 29 points, if they weren’t, they’d be on 32 and level with Eibar heading into the final match. Both teams exchanged goals (thanks to some suspect goalkeeping from Diego Alves) in the first half an hour, before Fernando Soriano’s 37th minute strike was cancelled out by Sofiane Feghouli from close range right on half-time. Alves injured his knee while making a regulation punt down field and was replaced by substitute goalkeeper Yoel with 18 minutes to play. Paco Alcacer popped up with the winner and his late strike – his 11th league goal for the season which he dedicated to his late father – was enough to fire Nuno’s side into fourth place, and confirmed that Almeria would be relegated regardless of whether any penalties were applied.

Despite a 3-0 win, Eibar were relegated.
Despite a 3-0 win, Eibar were relegated.

The victory also consigned Sevilla to fifth place despite their 3-2 win over Malaga (which eliminated Malaga from Europa League contention), but they still have an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League via the Europa League final against Dnipro this week.

Following a sensational mid-season turnaround, Athletic Bilbao defeated Villarreal 4-0 to ensure they qualified for European competition. Ernesto Valverde’s side spent the majority of the season in and around the bottom half of the table, but a second-half flurry saw them climb the ladder and finish in a respectable seventh place. Aritz Aduriz, often the man who saved Los Leones throughout the season, fittingly ended the season with a brace, book-ending goals from Iraola and Beñat.

And Real Madrid annihilated Getafe 7-3, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his eighth hat-trick of the season which saw him finish on top of the Pichichi standings with 48 goals.

Results in full:

Levante 0-0 Elche; Almeria 2-3 Valencia; Athletic Bilbao 4-0 Villarreal; Barcelona 2-2 Deportivo La Coruña; Celta Vigo 3-2 Espanyol; Eibar 3-0 Cordoba; Granada 0-0 Atletico Madrid; Malaga 2-3 Sevilla; Rayo Vallecano 2-4 Real Sociedad; Real Madrid 7-3 Getafe.

About Mark Houston 86 Articles
Mark is an editor of The Blog FC and has also contributed to other sport and music sites. He predominantly writes about La Liga but also follows Europe's other top leagues and the local A-League. There's a special place in his heart for bearded deep-lying playmakers and he's a proud member of the Goalkeepers Union.