La Liga’s title-deciding final round has seen kickoff times changed for the third time in 12 hours due to a row over Villarreal’s preparation time for the Europa League final and concerns over a clash with the Eurovision Song Contest.
Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid both go into this weekend’s games with hopes of being crowned champions, with Diego Simeone’s side, who are two points clear at the top, needing a win at Real Valladolid to clinch the title while Madrid host Villarreal.
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Those crucial games, as well as others involving the race for European places and the relegation battle, were originally scheduled for Sunday evening.
That decision left Villarreal fuming, with chief executive Fernando Roig Negueroles accusing La Liga of showing a “lack of respect” by giving the club just three days to prepare for their Europa League final with Manchester United on Wednesday, May 26.
“The explanation is that [Saturday night] coincides with Eurovision,” he told Cadena COPE. “There’s a lack of respect to Villarreal and what we’re playing for. This is a Spanish team representing La Liga in Europe.”
The first fixture change had seen Barcelona’s match at Eibar — which had been moved from Sunday to Saturday afternoon, with Barca out of the title race and Eibar relegated — switched back to Sunday when the league realised that the result could still impact which other teams would go down.
In a further change, La Liga then acted in response to Villarreal’s complaints, bringing forward seven decisive games, including Valladolid v Atletico and Madrid v Villarreal, to Saturday at 6 p.m. CEST (12 p.m. ET).
That gives Villarreal an extra 24 hours to prepare to face United — who themselves play Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday — and also avoids a clash with Eurovision.
The Song Contest, which draws a worldwide television audience of around 200 million people, gets underway three hours later at 9 p.m. CEST (3 p.m. ET).