Down to the wire: The race for the Champions League

Being an Arsenal fan, I know the story with Valencia. Used to be title challengers but now have to battle for Champions League every season on a shoe string budget in comparison to some other La Liga clubs. This is perhaps why I have grown fond of Valencia in recent years, it’s a sort of “I feel your pain” relationship. Despite me obviously wanting Valverde’s men to clinch a Champions League spot on Sunday, I have such admiration for Real Sociedad who have taken many by surprise this season.

With the devastating attack of Griezmann, Vela and Agirretxe, coupled with a usually solid defence featuring Inigo Martinez, a rising star in Spanish football, it is quite shocking how many overlooked La Real. Illarramendi’s solidity in midfield allows the players around him to express themselves more freely in the 4-3-3 formation.

Up until Sunday night, Sociedad had the Champions League qualification in their hands. Just 3 weeks ago, Valencia were 5 points behind 4th place but difficult fixtures for La Real saw them slip up which hands Valencia the chance to secure Champions League football on Sunday.

Rewinding back to Sunday however where Sociedad hosted Real Madrid in a crunch match. Fate looked to be against them early on as Higuaín opened the scoring after just 6 minutes. A nervy half saw the scoreline read 1-0 at half-time. Meanwhile, Valencia were struggling putting the ball in the net against a deflated Granada side.

Mourinho’s men went in search of goal number two in the second half and their pressure was rewarded – José Callejon picking up a rare goal to double Madrid’s advantage. Things went from bad to worse for La Real as two minutes after conceding a second, Valencia took the lead through Roberto Soldado, his 28th goal of the season. But, La Real recovered and applied needed pressure to claw the game back to 2-2 – goals from a Xavi Prieto penalty and Griezmann. Unfortunately, as Sociedad were pushing for a winner, Khedira put the nail in the coffin for Montanier’s men.

Or did he…

With seconds to go, La Real bundled the ball forward Xavi Prieto popped up at the back post to secure a vital point indeed. Although, Sociedad fans will regret not taking all 3 points.


1 match to go. Valencia lead Sociedad by 2 points. All ‘Los Che’ need to do is match Sociedad’s result. La Real have to win and hope Valencia fail to win.


Valverde’s men face a trip to Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán on the final day to face a Sevilla side with little to play for other than a final win in front of their fans for 2012/13. The reverse fixture was a comfortable 2-0 win for Valencia and a brace for star striker Roberto Soldado. I can see a similar result here.

Prediction: Sevilla 1-3 Valencia


La Real visit Deportivo on the last match of 2012/13, which is just as important for the hosts. Deportivo are in a relegation battle as they sit one place above the drop zone. A 1-1 draw was the conclusion in the reverse fixture with Pizzi and Vela on the scoresheet.

Prediction: Deportivo 1-2 Sociedad

Thanks for reading,

By Cain Bennett


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