Latvia: Three-way battle ensures exciting title race
With five rounds of matches to go in Latvia’s Virsliga the title race has been whittled down to three teams. Defending champions Skonto Riga virtually have no chance of winning this year’s competition as they lie in fourth place, 14 points behind league leaders FK Ventspils but the capital side will still play a decisive part in the destination of the title as they must face-off against each of the contenders.
This weekend sees Skonto play host to surprise package Daugava Daugavpils who are in third place, four points behind Ventspils but have played a game more. The biggest game of the weekend, however, will take place on the Baltic coast with the top two of FK Ventspils and Liepājas Metalurgs playing at the former’s home Olimpiskais Stadium. Due to a lack of a credible local rivalry for Skonto, the “Derby of Kurzeme” is the biggest rivalry in Latvia. These teams have won five of the last six championships between them and they are currently separated by three points but Metalurgs have played one game more. Should FK Ventspils emerge triumphant in Saturday’s big match it could provide the Yellow and Blue with a massive psychological advantage. Should Metalurgs win the title race will be all the more exciting especially if Daugava should win their match away in Riga.
But it isn’t just this weekend which will see the top four meet each other. Next Wednesday sees Metalurgs play host to Skonto before the former travel to Latvia’s second city of Daugavpils to play FC Daugava on Sunday week. Should FC Daugava overcome the challenge of Metalurgs then they will go into the October 30th match at home to Ventspils in good heart and a win in front of their supporters would be a great way to end the season. Depending on results FC Daugava will then have to wait to see what their fate will be when Ventspils host Skonto Riga in the final round of matches on November 5th.
At the bottom of the table Olimps/RFS already know that they will participate in the end of season promotion/relegation play-offs. Riga’s lesser known football club only have six points to show from their 29 games and are ten points behind eighth place FK Jūrmala-VV with three matches to play and, thus, unable to catch up.
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