Relegation Europe to play for on Liga final day

Almeria, Deportivo la Coruna, Eibar and Granada will fight it out to avoid the two remaining relegation places when the Spanish league season comes to a close on Saturday.

The makeup of Spain’s representatives in next season’s Champions League will also be decided with Valencia and Sevilla still vying for fourth place, whilst Atletico Madrid need a point to secure third and avoid a tricky qualifier in August.

Deportivo and Granada hold the advantage in the battle to avoid the drop as they lead Eibar and Almeria by two points.

However, they both face tough tasks this weekend as Depor travel to champions Barcelona, whilst in-form Granada host Atletico.

“It is difficult to get anything at the Camp Nou. We are facing the best team in the world, but we need to show that we are playing for our lives,” said Deportivo striker Oriol Riera.

“For us there is no other game. This is the one that will decide where we will play next season.”

Barca, though, may not be in a forgiving mood despite having the title sewn up as the Camp Nou is expected to pay homage to Xavi Hernandez on his final league game for the club after a 17-year playing career.

Having previously won just twice in the league since September, Granada have won their last three games since Jose Ramon Sandoval took charge earlier this month to keep their survival hopes alive.

“A month ago it was almost impossible to survive and now we are just one game away from achieving it. A draw could do us and everyone believes we will do it,” said midfielder Ruben Perez, who looks set to feature against his parent club.

Atletico will definitely achieve their objective of qualification for the Champions League group stages with a point, but could still be usurped should they lose and Valencia win at Almeria.

“It is difficult to think that one game could define a season, but it is true that for us this point is very important,” added Atletico midfielder Tiago.

Almeria’s chances of staying up could be decided both on the pitch and in the court room in the coming days.

Even should they beat Los Che to avoid the drop, a final decision on whether they are to be docked three points for unpaid sums to Danish club Aalborg for the transfer of Michael Jakobsen in 2010 will be made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday.

A Valencia slip-up in Almeria would also have consequences at the top as Sevilla could move into fourth with victory at Malaga.

However, Sevilla also have a second chance at Champions League qualification as they will go straight into next season’s group stages even if they finish fifth should they retain the Europa League against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on Wednesday.

On paper, Eibar have by far the easiest task on Saturday when they host the already relegated Cordoba.

The Basque minnows have won just one of their last 19 La Liga games, but remain confident of surviving in their first ever season in the top flight with a little help from Barcelona and Atletico.

“Barcelona are in good form and will want a good goodbye for Xavi and Atletico Madrid are playing for third place,” said goalkeeper Xabier Irureta.

“We need to do our job and wait and see. If things go as normal then we have a great chance of staying up.”

Athletic Bilbao can also seal the final Europa League place with victory at home to Villarreal.

The Basques are currently seventh, which would yield a European place if Barca beat them in the Copa del Rey final next weekend.

Anything other than a win, though, would allow Malaga to snatch seventh by beating Sevilla.

Meanwhile, at the Santiago Bernabeu, Carlo Ancelotti could take charge of his final match as Real Madrid coach when Los Blancos play out a meaningless final game of the campaign against Getafe.

Fixtures

Saturday (all times 1630 GMT unless stated)

Levante v Elche (1430), Barcelona v Deportivo la Coruna, Granada v Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano v Real Sociedad, Eibar v Cordoba, Celta Vigo v Espanyol, Almeria v Valencia, Malaga v Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal, Real Madrid v Getafe (1830)

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