Athletic In Position To Qualify For Europe With Win Over Celta Vigo…And Some Help
Athletic had a fantastic opportunity on Sunday when they traveled to Real Valladolid, but the match didn’t go as planned. Not only did the Lions fall 1-0 at Zorrilla, they also saw their direct competition for 7th place edge even closer. With just two games remaining on the schedule Athletic hold a three-point lead over the last European spot in the table and could mathematically qualify depending on how a few matches play out this weekend.
The Lions will welcome Celta Vigo to San Mamés on Sunday in a match that will be absolutely crucial. Athletic can’t afford to lose another game in this final stretch of the season, but they could also qualify for Europe this weekend with a little bit of help. Real Sociedad, Alavés, and Espanyol are all just three points off, though they would be eliminated from contention if they drop points and Athletic manage a victory at home.
Even if all three clubs draw this weekend, an Athletic win would give the Lions a 5 point lead with just 3 points left to play for. At the same time, if Athletic lose and one of the three pick up a victory it would put the Lions outside of the top 7 as they don’t hold the tiebreaker against any of their three challengers. It truly is a situation with multiple outcomes.
The good news is that Athletic have the luxury of being able to control their own destiny. As long as they can pick up at least one win and one draw from the final two matches they will qualify for Europe. It’s certainly easier said than done. At this point in the season every single game is massive and there are no easy opponents. No one could have predicted back in December that Athletic would be in this situation now, but here they are and they have to prove that they deserve to play in Europe next season.