La Liga Week 38 preview: Permutations endless on final day


A Champions League spot, two Europa League berths and two relegation places to fill are on offer on what could be an eventful final day of the season.

Atletico Madrid, midweek conquerors of Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League final, are eyeing fourth spot as they take on Villarreal at El Madrigal and will be competing against Malaga and Levante for the coveted place in European football’s premier competition.

Malaga fans, more accustomed to seeing their team battle against relegation in recent seasons, know victory at La Rosaleda will ensure their team enter the qualifying rounds this summer, although their task will not be easy against a Sporting Gijon side that needs to win to have any chance of avoiding the drop.

Levante, meanwhile, will face Athletic Bilbao at the Ciutat de Valencia hoping both the Costa del Sol side and Atletico slip up in their respective games. But their likely fate appears to be a Europa League place as Osasuna, who travel to already-relegated Racing Santander, are breathing down their necks

At the top of the table champions Real Madrid will receive the La Liga trophy before their game at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Mallorca. Victory would give Jose Mourinho’s men a new league record of 100 points, beating the 99 set by Barcelona in 2010, while the visitors may need to get at least a point if they are to maintain their Europa League hopes.

Runners-up Barcelona will be playing their final game under Pep Guardiola at Real Betis’ Benito Villamarin stadium, when Lionel Messi will have the chance to take his personal goal tally for the season to 50.

Down at the bottom five teams will be competing to avoid the final two relegation places – Granada, Villarreal, Rayo Vallecano, Real Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon. The crucial clash looks like being the one at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas, where Rayo entertain Granada in what could turn out to be a winner-takes-all match in the fight for survival.

Villarreal need a point from the home clash with Atletico while Real Zaragoza travel to nothing-to-play-for Getafe backed by 9,000 supporters. Yet the permutations at the bottom, as usual, are complicated……

If, Rayo Sporting, and Zaragoza all finish on 40 points, Sporting stay up.

If Rayo, Zaragoza and Villarreal all finish on 41 points then Rayo go down.

If Rayo and Villarreal both end on 41 points, Rayo go down.

If Villarreal and Zaragoza both end on 41 points, Villarreal go down.

If Rayo and Zaragoza both end on 41 points, Zaragoza go down.

If there is tie on 42 points between Granada and Villarreal, then Granada go down.

The full fixture list is (GMT times):

Saturday

Real Sociedad v Valencia (7pm)

Real Betis v Barcelona (9pm)

Sunday

Getafe v Real Zaragoza (7pm)

Racing Santander v Osasuna (7pm)

Espanyol v Sevilla (7pm)

Real Madrid v Real Mallorca (7pm)

Malaga v Sporting Gijon (7pm)

Rayo Vallecano v Granada (7pm)

Levante v Athletic Bilbao (7pm)

Villarreal v Atletico Madrid (7pm)

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