By Rik Sharma
BARCELONA (Reuters) – As Barcelona’s win over Getafe could not stop the inquest into their calamitous Champions League exit, Valencia took control of the race for fourth with a 3-1 win over Alaves while Girona moved to the verge of relegation after a 2-1 defeat by Levante on Sunday.
Here are five talking points from the weekend in La Liga.
BARCASTILL IN BLACKHOLE
Sergio Busquets said it best. “We are in a big black hole,” explained the midfielder, who was whistled for the first time by his own fans at the Nou Camp as Barcelona beat Getafe 2-0 on Sunday.
Coach Ernesto Valverde said after the game that Barcelona’s collective head was not in the right place at the start of the match, with the team still stinging from the Champions League semi-final humiliation by Liverpool on Tuesday.
By the end, the Spanish champions had found more of a rhythm and beat Champions League challengers Getafe without too much fuss, but it was a drab display.
Philippe Coutinho was another player singled out by Barcelona fans for whistles and jeers as fans made their frustrations known.
“We have to go step by step to heal the wound,” added Busquets, looking ahead to the Copa del Rey final against Valencia, and beyond.
GETAFECOME UP SHORT
Despite Barcelona’s misery, Getafe still came away from Catalonia feeling worse.
Overtaken by Valencia and now fifth, the Madrid minnows’ bid to reach next season’s Champions League is no longer in their hands.
If Valencia beat Real Valladolid next weekend, it will be Los Che who qualify, with Getafe having to settle for a Europa League place.
That would be no mean feat either for Jose Bordalas’s side, who have been the surprise package of the season in Spain.
After seeing a week of exciting European action, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur coming from behind to reach the Champions League final, the coach is not giving up until the end.
“Anything can happen,” said the hopeful Bordalas.
No amount of never-say-die spirit is likely to save Girona from becoming the third and final team to get relegated from La Liga next weekend.
A 2-1 defeat by Levante at home in a relegation six-pointer leaves them on the brink of the drop. They must win at Alaves, Celta Vigo have to lose against Rayo Vallecano and there must be a goal difference swing of six.
Coach Eusebio Sacristan does not believe that’s possible and broke down in tears while speaking to reporters after the game.
It was so nearly a different story but a penalty awarded to Girona and red card issued to Coke were overturned by VAR just before Enis Bardhi struck the winner.
BALE ON THEBRINK
It looks like time is up for Gareth Bale at Real Madrid.
Coach Zinedine Zidane did not even include the Welsh winger in the squad that lost 3-1 at Real Sociedad on Sunday.
“It’s very clear what I’ve done this weekend, we’ll see what I do next week and what happens next year,” said Zidane when asked about Bale’s absence.
For once there was no injury problem keeping Bale away. It was the coach’s call to axe the club’s record signing.
The winger has never been adored by Madrid fans despite helping win the team four Champions League trophies in the last five years.
Zidane may give Bale a final appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu next weekend in the final match of the campaign, but in Brahim Diaz, who scored a brilliant goal and Vinicius Junior, the coach now has exciting replacements available on the flanks for next season.
ASPASSTILL AT IT
Even as Celta Vigo lost 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao, talismanic striker Iago Aspas grabbed a late goal from the spot to virtually ensure their survival.
Aspas’s goal increased the goal difference gap between them and Girona to six.
Despite Celta’s intense flirtation with the drop, Aspas has scored 18 goals and their survival is down to him.
(Editing by Ian Chadband)