Matchday 34 of the 2021/22 LaLiga season could go down in history. That’s because league leaders Real Madrid have the chance to mathematically clinch the title when they take on RCD Espanyol on Saturday afternoon. That isn’t the only big game of the weekend, though, as Atlético Madrid face a tricky trip to Bilbao, Real Betis return to action after their Copa del Rey triumph and there are two derby matches as well.
One of the regional rivalry matches is Sevilla vs Cádiz CF and this Andalusian derby is the first game of the round, taking place on Friday night. Although they are competing at opposite ends of the table, both clubs have so much to play for and it should be an intense and hard-fought battle at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.
The first of Saturday’s four matches see Deportivo Alavés take on Villarreal, with the bottom-placed Basque team looking for what would be a second consecutive home victory. It was 5-2 when they met earlier this season, so it should certainly be an entertaining duel.
Then, at 16:15, it’s Real Madrid vs Espanyol at the Bernabéu. This is a unique opportunity for Los Blancos to mathematically clinch a league title in front of their home fans, as they haven’t done that since 2007. Even though they’ve celebrated four league titles since then, they were all secured either on the road or behind closed doors because of the pandemic. On Saturday, though, Carlo Ancelotti’s squad will be able to have a title party with their supporters if they either draw or defeat their opponents.
Following that match at the Bernabéu, the focus will turn to Mestalla as Valencia CF take on city rivals Levante UD in the Valencia Derby. Los Che won the first meeting of the season 4-3 and now have the chance to do something they’ve never managed before, which is to beat Levante UD both home and away in the same LaLiga season.
A classic fixture of Spanish football then takes place in Bilbao on Saturday night, with Athletic Club and Atlético de Madrid facing off. These clubs share a historic connection and have played out some thrilling duels over the years, most recently when the Basque side eliminated Atleti in the Spanish Super Cup in January. Diego Simeone’s charges will want some revenge for that, while they need the points as they pursue Champions League qualification.
Four more matches follow on Sunday, starting with Elche CF vs CA Osasuna as the home side look to further pull away from the relegation zone after securing two wins in a row. Granada, meanwhile, are currently inside the bottom three, but new coach Aitor Karanka had an impressive debut and will now hope for another positive result in his team’s home match against RC Celta.
On Sunday evening, Rayo Vallecano return to Vallecas after two games in a row in Catalonia, where they defeated RCD Espanyol and then FC Barcelona by 1-0 scorelines thanks to goals from Sergi Guardiola and Álvaro García. Next up are Real Sociedad and Andoni Iraola’s side will be full of confidence.
Barcelona, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from that loss against Rayo Vallecano when they take on RCD Mallorca at Camp Nou. Xavi’s side have now lost their past three home matches across all competitions, something that hadn’t ever happened at the club, and it won’t be easy against RCD Mallorca either, given that the islanders have so much to play for as they fight for survival. It promises to be an intriguing showdown at Camp Nou.
Copa del Rey champions Real Betis then return to action on Monday night with a visit to Getafe CF. Even in the aftermath of their cup success, and with a week still to go until this fixture, coach Manuel Pellegrini pointed out the importance of this LaLiga Santander trip to the capital. With the Verdiblancos aiming to add Champions League qualification to their new piece of silverware, this Monday night match is a huge one.