La Liga Week 27 Preview: European and relegation battles heat up

With 13 games left of the Spanish Primera Division campaign there is still a massive battle for European football and it seems to intensify with every passing week as five points separates fourth from 11th. All contenders are anxious not to drop points as we continue to build up to an exciting climax to the season. The fight for survival is also heating up as the bottom clubs scramble for points and they face another week of significant but very difficult fixtures.

Malaga host Levante in a match which is crucial for both sides in their campaign for European football. Manuel Pellegrini’s men, currently in sixth place, will be hoping to leapfrog the Granotas and boost their chances of grabbing that highly coveted fourth spot which Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side have occupied for a vast part of the current campaign.

Both Coaches effectively have full squads to choose from. Martinez is only without Juanlu Gomez who is still recovering from a fractured tibia but has resumed light training, whilst Julio Baptista is still unavailable for selection for Malaga.

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid will be high in confidence after their 3-1 Europa League win over Besiktas. The Rojiblancos will be looking to build on their first victory in three games as they seek to ensure they remain in the race for European qualification with a victory over a Granada side which has lost its last two matches.

Despite sitting in eighth position and just three points adrift from sixth, Rayo Vallecano are still considered as outsiders when it comes to the challenge for a European spot. But the Madrid club would state their intentions of playing in continental competition next season by picking up three points against fellow contenders Espanyol, who are 11th but just one point behind the Vallecanos.

Elsewhere in the ongoing battle for Europe, Osasuna take on Athletic Bilbao who will be buoyed by their 3-2 victory over Manchester United on Thursday. Marcelo Bielsa’s side have not lost any of their last five matches in all competitions and will be anxious to maintain the pressure on Levante as they look to seize fourth place or at least hold onto fifth, whilst Osasuna could jump into the Europa League spots by picking up three points against the Basque club

Real Zaragoza will be hoping to build on last week’s win over Villarreal by picking up points against Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Sporting Gijon face a difficult task in their fight for survival as they host a resurgent Sevilla side which is unbeaten in the last three games.

Third bottom side Racing Santander will hope to remain within touching distance of Villarreal but welcome Barcelona to the Estadio El Sardinero who simply demolished Bayer Leverkusen in midweek with an utterly superb performance from Lionel Messi.

Pep Guardiola’s men will be looking to prevent the gap between themselves and Real Madrid from widening. Madrid remain ten points ahead of the Blaugrana and their trip to Andalusia to face Real Betis is Jose Mourinho’s 100th game in charge of Los Blancos.


17:00 GMT M

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