La Liga Betting: How the odds stand with season suspended and big decisions to be made
With La Liga currently suspended amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Dan Fitch examines what might happen next and looks at the current betting situation in Spain.
The Spanish football season has been suspended for the next two rounds of matches. Whether it resumes after this point is up for debate. It's certainly possible, should the spread of the coronavirus significantly reduce, but perhaps more likely, is that there will be a continuation of the suspension.
At some stage some tough decisions will have to be made. Much will come down to UEFA and whether they will postpone Euro 2020 and their plans for this season's Champions League and Europa League. They have the power to create a gap in the next few months, that could allow national leagues to conclude, should the virus abate.
There appears to be four ways in which the Spanish season can be settled. The first is for the season to be completed at some point after the suspension, which would be everyone's preference.
Then there is the option of simply cancelling the season, with no champion, no relegation and the same European qualifiers as 2018-19. That's likely to be controversial, but that would also be the case if you ended the season now and crowned Barcelona as champions, which is the third possibility. The fourth option that has been mooted is to conclude the season on the evidence of the halfway point.
There are no easy answers and clubs are bound to fight for their own self-interest. From a betting perspective we have to assume that the season will be completed in some way. Here's where things currently stand in the major markets in Spanish football.
La Liga winner
Barcelona are currently trading at the 1.54favourites, with Real Madrid out at 2.68.
This is a clear reaction to the fallout regarding the coronavirus. Barcelona are only two points ahead of Real Madrid in a two-way title race that has swung back and forth at various points of the season. Under normal circumstances they would not be so short, in a season when their form has been erratic.
If the season were decided on the current positions, Barcelona would win the title, which would also be the case if the season were decided by the halfway stage proposal. Throw in the prospect of the season being completed and Barca winning it legitimately and you can see why they are so short.
One of the key reasons why the decision was made to suspend the season in preference to the original plan of playing games behind closed doors, is that Real Madrid are currently in quarantine.
A member of the club's basketball team tested positive for the coronavirus and as the respective squads all train in the same complex in Valdebabdes, the football team are in self-isolation. Should the season be resumed, one can only wonder what their fitness levels will be at, after a period of at least 15 days of self-isolation.
One of the most problematic areas when it comes to deciding what should happen next, is how tight the battle for a top four spot currently is.
Barcelona and Real Madrid's places are assured, but there is only five points currently separating third placed Sevilla and Valencia in seventh. Even 10th placed Athletic Bilbao are only nine points away from the Champions League qualification positions. Those inside the top four will want the season to end now. Those outside it, that finished in the top four last season, such as Atletico Madrid, will want the season voided. Fifth placed Getafe will be hoping that the season can resume and they can book their place in the Champions League.
The exchange currently has Sevilla at 1.12 and Atletico at 1.61 to finish in the top four. Fourth-placed Real Sociedad are 2.88, with Getafe at 3.70 and Valencia at 13.00.
Espanyol are bottom, with Leganes and Mallorca also in the relegation zone. They lead the betting to go down. Espanyol are 1.17, Mallorca are 1.33 and Leganes are 1.44.
Yet the likes of Celta Vigo, Eibar and Valladolid are all far from safe and even lower mid-table teams such as Alaves, Levante, Betis and Osasuna have work to do. You could try to appease everyone by scrapping relegation, but what then happens to Cadiz and Real Zaragoza, who currently occupy the two automatic promotion spots in the Segunda Division?
Copa del Rey
If there's one competition in Spain that does have the potential to conclude it's the Copa del Rey.
With the finalists already decided, there's no reason why this couldn't be played as a pre-season encounter prior to the 2020-21 campaign, should this season be scrapped. Real Sociedad are the 1.76favourites, with Athletic Bilbao at 2.10.