With the strike averted, Barcelona can reclaim the La Liga crown this weekend with a win against Atletico Madrid.
Okay, so that’s sorted. As of Thursday, Spain’s High Court has disallowed the impending strike initiated by the Spanish FA and the players’ union from taking place. Therefore, the remaining two matchdays of La Liga will be played starting this weekend.
The cancellation of the suspension was always likely to be the outcome of this whole ordeal. The potential fiasco on everyone’s hands, both organizationally and for the players, would be enormous. Whether it’s the procedural conflict of crowning and relegating of teams without actually playing the final two games, or the circus that would accompany withholding international footballers from meeting up with their national squads ahead of summer tournaments, or merely the affecting of players’ well-earned and wholly necessary holiday-time, this strike had to be averted at all costs.
All La Liga matches will now go ahead with some slight scheduling changes. The remaining games will be played simultaneously on the final two matchdays. All Matchday 37 games will be played on Sunday, May 17th at 1PM ET. All Matchday 38 (the final day) games will be played on Saturday, May 23rd at 12:30PM.
While the season will now conclude as scheduled, the dispute that created the problem is far from over. At the root of the possible strike was and is a power struggle between the Spanish government and the Spanish Football Federation. The TV rights law that initially caused the stir is unlikely to be left alone, and will continue to be lobbied against by the FA. It was ill timing for a strike, considering the money and stakes of the La Liga’s final weeks.
In a sense, domestic Spanish football is systematically broken. These power quarrels could either repair or further damage that truth. Only time will tell. The actual football, on the other hand, is soaring. Game on.
Barca Seeking 23rd Liga Triumph
Now that that’s over, it’s time to get back to the football. More specifically, it’s time to get back to Barcelona, who’ve had a tremendous week. After winning a grueling and vital match against the bogeymen Real Sociedad last weekend, and then qualifying for their fourth Champions League final in nine seasons, the Blaugrana are now staring into the eyes of another historic treble. And just months after a supposed crisis was engulfing the team. That’s how narrative works.
But here’s where things get tricky. Nevermind the fact that a bullish and inspired Juventus side, and a scrappy and energetic Athletic Bilbao side, both stand in their way of that treble. A perhaps more daunting task faces the Catalans this weekend as they’ll will travel to *still* reigning champions Atletico Madrid in hopes of reclaiming their La Liga crown. A Barca win would secure their 23rd Liga title.
Although Atleti aren’t challenging for the top as they did successfully last year, last doesn’t necessarily mean the dynamic has changed for them. Diego Simeone’s side will always be David to Barca and Madrid’s Goliath, and they actually prefer it that way. Regardless of how in-form Barca currently are, the aggro mentality and swift finishing of Simeone’s Colchoneros will certainly pose problems to them. True, the La Liga trophy maybe be packing its suitcase at the Vicente Calderon, ready to return to whence it came. But none of that matters to Atleti right now, who fit the role of Spoiler perfectly. Their identity is their identity.
Madrid Holding Out Hope
As their rivals Barcelona zero in on the La Liga title, Real Madrid will visit those other Catalans of Espanyol on Saturday in a must-win game. Of course, they’ll also have to count on certain results going their unfavorable way in the meantime. The outlook may be bleak at the moment for Los Merengues, having squandered their remaining domestic and European hopes in a matter of one week. But the possibility of a Madrid miracle still lingers.
Well, if they’re going to do so, it’ll have to be without their manager. Carlos Ancelotti has been suspended for the remainder of the season for critical remarks made about referee Clos Gomez following their recent draw with Valencia.
Considering the Italian’s suspension stems from the game in which Madrid basically handed the trophy to Barcelona, there’s really no better time to get an early start on your summer holiday. Though that’s just speaking narratively and figuratively. Truthfully, this suspension could absolutely come to bite Los Blancos in an already sore spot. Especially considering Ancelotti’s propensity to shuffle his teamsheets and strategies in recent weeks — whether it be deploying Sergio Ramos in midfield or using Chicharito Hernandez as their main point man — this ruling probably forfeits Madrid’s fleeting title hopes for good.