Osasuna earned a spot in the Conference League, while Valladolid faced relegation to the second division on a nerve-racking final day of the football season in Spain. Here’s what we learned from this dramatic closing day.
1. Don’t Leave Tasks Unfinished Until the Final Day
On Sunday, six teams risked relegation, each dependent on their own results for survival. In the end, Valladolid was the unfortunate squad to drop.
The evening was fraught with tension, particularly when Espanyol twice took the lead against Almeria, momentarily dropping Almeria to the bottom three. However, Adri Embarba’s last-minute penalty salvaged Almeria, and with Valladolid failing to score against Getafe, they settled in the 18th place.
The takeaway: while the future may be in your own hands, if you’re the team with the most ground to cover at the bottom, you’re likely to face the consequences.
2. Osasuna Secures European Place, Caps Off Excellent Season
Osasuna began Sunday in 17th place, aware that a win would secure their return to Europe for the first time since 2007. Coached by Jagoba Arrasate, the team did not disappoint, pulling off a 2-1 home victory against Girona.
Croatian international Ante Budimir netted both goals early in the second half, concluding a season that saw Pamplona’s club reach the Copa del Rey final for the second time in their history. It’s a fitting reward for Arrasate’s superb leadership.
Osasuna’s formula for success includes a stalwart defense, organized midfield, and players such as Budimir capable of scoring decisive goals.
3. A Day of Farewells at Various Grounds
Sunday marked the final appearances of Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio for Real Madrid, as both confirmed their departures from the club. Benzema capped his exit with a goal from a penalty, a fitting sendoff for the departing forward.
At 41, Joaquin Sanchez concluded his career at Betis after 23 years, making him both a football and media figure. Almeria’s coach Rubi announced his departure along with his coaching staff, just minutes after leading his team to safety.
Meanwhile, Celta Vigo’s young talent Gabri Veiga netted two goals, aiding in his team’s survival and likely marking his final match before a significant transfer. His emotional reaction to Celta’s 2-1 victory over Barca was a poignant moment.
While players can now rest, expect more departures and a busy week ahead in club offices across the country.
4. Referees and VAR Need Improvement
A significant downside of this season has been the unacceptable number of referee errors uncorrected by the VAR system, with Sunday providing more examples.
Atletico Madrid posted an ironic tweet referencing a blatant handball by Aissa Mandi, which denied Antoine Griezmann a goal that could have seen Atletico surpass Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal received only a yellow card for a brutal challenge against Athletic Bilbao’s Yuri Berchiche. The incident saw Berchiche’s knee targeted with the ball meters away, leaving Athletic to complete the game at the Bernabeu with just 10 players.
Such errors are nearly impossible for coaches, players and fans to understand, and unfortunately, they only undermine confidence in the competition’s integrity.