x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Battle for fourth is the best La Liga has to offer

The battle for fourth between Real Sociedad and Valencia is the most exciting thing in Spanish football at the moment. Andy Mitten explains.

Real Sociedad's forward Imanol Agirretxe celebrates after scoring on their way to defeating Valencia, which appeared to lock up fourth place in the Primera Liga for La Real.
Real Sociedad's forward Imanol Agirretxe celebrates after scoring on their way to defeating Valencia, which appeared to lock up fourth place in the Primera Liga for La Real.

The race for fourth between Real Sociedad and Valencia seemed to be over two weeks ago when La Real beat Valencia to go five points clear.

The manner of the win left observers in no doubt - this Sociedad team deserved Uefa Champions League football for the first time in a decade.

But the praise seems to have gone to their heads.

Their 15-match unbeaten run ended a week later at Getafe and they could only draw 2-2 at home to relegation-threatened Granada on Sunday, the Andalusians getting a 90th-minute equaliser.

Are nerves going to trip them up just as they looked so impressive?

Valencia have capitalised on their slip, winning their last two games 4-0. Spain striker Roberto Soldado has shown his class, scoring seven times in their last five games to overtake Alvaro Negredo as the leading Spaniard in Spain.

Soldado has hit 27 goals this season and been Valencia's standout player. With their financial problems, his club need to qualify for the Champions League.

Their constant qualifications for the competition have been a major reason for them staying afloat.

Valencia are now level on points with Sociedad, though they have an inferior goal difference and head-to-head record with the Basques.

Just three league games remain and Valencia have the easier run in.

Valencia were 12th in December and their rise under Ernesto Valverde has almost been as impressive as Sociedad's.

The battle for fourth is the most exciting thing in Spanish football at the moment.

 

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