Spain’s top flight has been, with little doubt, one of the strangest leagues in Europe this season. Defending Champions League winners Real Madrid currently sit a distant second, twelve points behind Barcelona. Barcelona themselves have been dominant in Spain but again were dumped out in the Champions League group stages — and then again in Europa League.
The top six are rounded out by some interesting teams — Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, and Villarreal. Real Sociedad in particular has been a surprise package, competing for a Champions League spot after years of struggling to break into the top four. However, it’s not just at the top of the table that has some surprises.
La Liga has a massive group of clubs that could be relegated to La Liga 2 — ninth-placed Osasuna are just eight points from the drop, compared to the ninth-placed teams in England (16), Germany (17), Italy (21), and France (18) in their respective leagues. With such a wide number of teams able to go down, here’s what to expect from the closest relegation battlers:
20th – Elche (Currently 20th)
This one is a no-brainer. Elche is currently dead last in La Liga, with only two wins in 27 matches. They’ve scored the fewest goals in the league (19), conceded the most (55), have the worst goal differential by some margin, and are fourteen points away from 19th place. They have more than twice as many managers (five) than wins (two). There won’t be a miracle here.
19th – Espanyol (Currently 18th)
Espanyol recently returned to La Liga and barely avoided relegation last year. This year, the club has struggled: they have the third most goals conceded (44), and just went winless in March. Additionally, six of their final eleven matches are against sides in the top half of the table, including rivals Barcelona — who relegated the club back in 2020. All hope lies in former Premier League star Joselu, who, at the age of 33, is having the season of his life.
18th – Real Valladolid (Currently 16th)
Valladolid is currently in their first La Liga season since 2021 when they went down with just 31 points. Right now, they have 28 points, which is a bit flattering. They have scored just one more goal than Elche and have conceded as many as Espanyol — not to mention they have just two wins since the start of February. They still have both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona on the schedule, and top scorer Sergio Leon last scored in October.
17th – Almeria (Currently 19th)
Almeria is 19th in La Liga right now, but a win in their next match could take them as high as 14th. They have one of the better offenses amongst relegation candidates, thanks to El Bilal Toure — a 21-year-old striker with eight goal contributions, including a winner against Barcelona. Almeria’s defense has been concerning this year but their offense and relatively weak schedule (outside of Real and Atletico Madrid) means they can and should avoid the drop.
16th – Cadiz (Currently 15th)
Cadiz started the year in poor form, with just two wins by January. Since then, everything has changed: they have just four losses since the turn of the year, and they’ve picked up big points against the likes of Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad. Their offense has been underperforming, with just 21 goals (3.4 lower than their expected goals, or xG), but their strong defense will play a big role in their safety. Goalkeeper Conan Ledesma will be the difference maker for the club.
15th – Valencia (Currently 17th)
Valencia currently sits at 17th in the league, equal on points with Almeria and Espanyol. They fired their manager in January. However, Valencia has been much better than their record suggests: they aren’t in the bottom five for goals scored or conceded, despite the club greatly underperforming its xG (6.5 fewer goals than xG). They also have a well-rounded squad, a fantastic goalkeeper in Giorgi Mamardashvili, and a pretty easy remaining schedule. Valencia should be fine by the end of the season.
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