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Atlético Femenino update: Madrid rivals embroiled in UEFA Women’s Champions League race

With three games remaining, third-place Atlético Madrid are in a three-way fight to return to the Women’s Champions League.

Atletico De Madrid V Valencia Cf - Primera Division Femenina
Laia Aleixandri of Atlético de Madrid looks on during the Primera Iberdrola match played between Atlético and Valencia at Centro Deportivo Wanda on March 26, 2022, in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid.
Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

The battle to enter next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League is wide open, with four Spanish teams battling for the second and third place finishes that would ensure European football in the 2022/2023 campaign.

Atlético Madrid currently sit third on 53 points, but they are level with rivals Real Madrid and Granadilla Tenerife. All three teams have now played 27 games, with three left to conclude the season.

Real Sociedad are well-placed to become Spain’s second representative next season after Barcelona, as they sit behind the Catalans in the standings with 59 points – six above the other contenders.

Atlético’s next three games see them face sixth-placed Levante away and Eibar, who are second from bottom, at home – two games in which the Madrid-based club start as favourites. But Levante always provide a stern test, and Eibar are fighting to stay up. These games might be trickier than they seem.

Atletico De Madrid V Ud Granadilla Tenerife - Primera Division Femenina
Atlético Femenino captain Amanda Sampedro looks on during the March 6 fixture against UD Granadilla de Tenerife.
Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

In addition, Atleti’s final game of the season sees them travel to Catalunya, where they will face the world’s best team, FC Barcelona. They have already been crowned champions of Spain and have annihilated the likes of Real Madrid and Wolfsburg in the Champions League this season.

The three other teams fighting for places have favourable schedules. Real Sociedad host already-relegated Rayo Vallecano and 10th-place Deportivo Alaves while facing Granadilla Tenerife in a direct encounter on away soil.

The two other games for Tenerife are away trips to 7th-place Athletic Club and a direct meeting with Levante.

Finally, Real Madrid face local rivals Madrid CFF (11th in the table) before taking on Valencia (12th) and Villarreal (14th).

In the second half of the season, Atlético Madrid have gained four points on their European rivals. In early February, they drew 2-2 away at Real Sociedad after Brazilian forward Ludmila levelled terms ten minutes from time. A month later, Atlético made light work of Granadille Tenerife, clinching an important 4-1 victory.

However, they failed to muster a positive result against Real Madrid, falling to a 2-0 home defeat.

Atletico de Madrid v Sevilla CF - Femenina Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

On a brighter note for the club, brain cancer survivor Virginia Torrecilla – who had made her return to the field in the Spanish Super Cup – made her first appearance in the league after 714 days during Atlético’s 5-0 win over Sevilla.

In the meantime, as the European competitions are coming to an end, the transfer market is already gaining traction. A couple Atlético Madrid stars are being linked with moves to England, with Spanish media reporting that Manchester City have set their sights on Spanish international midfielder Laia Alexandri and star forward Deyna Castellanos.

At the same time, one player who will surely miss the remainder of the season and also this summer’s European Championships is Bárbara Latorre, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury that cut short her first season at the club.