LaLiga Preview: European places, relegation battle down to the wire

LaLiga Preview: European places, relegation battle down to the wire

Fans of Spanish football can expect a very entertaining end to the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season, as the race to claim the final European qualification spot and the battle to avoid relegation will be decided on Matchday 38.

Granada CF, RCD Mallorca and Cádiz CF are the three teams who could join already-relegated Deportivo Alavés and Levante UD in dropping down to LaLiga SmartBank level.

Currently, Cádiz CF are sitting in the third and final relegation spot, but they are level on points with RCD Mallorca, who hold the tiebreaker, while the Amarillos are just one point behind Andalusian neighbours Granada CF.

All three of these teams at risk have fixtures that are winnable but tricky in their own way, with Granada CF at home to RCD Espanyol, RCD Mallorca visiting the mainland to take on CA Osasuna and Cádiz CF going north to face Deportivo Alavés.

Those three fixtures will take place simultaneously at 20:00 CEST on Sunday night and the positions in the table could change multiple times over the course of a couple of hours.

As soon as the relegation battle reaches its conclusion, attention will shift to the race for the final European qualification spot.

Villarreal CF are currently seventh and on course to participate in the UEFA Europa Conference League, but Athletic Bilbao are eighth and just one point behind Unai Emery’s side.

Both these clubs have very difficult fixtures at 22:00 CEST on Sunday, as Villarreal CF go to the Camp Nou to play FC Barcelona at the same time as Athletic Club visit Sevilla FC.

Athletic Club are confident, though, as they have pushed the Champions League semi-finalists all the way to the final day and the Basques even hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over their rivals for the last ticket to Europe, should they finish level on points.

At that same time slot on Sunday, Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid will also be in action. These two clubs already know that they’re going to next season’s Europa League and Champions League respectively, but they’ll aim to finish as high as possible as La Real could come fifth and Atleti will look to hold on to third place ahead of Sevilla FC.

There are four other fixtures taking place in Matchday 38 as well, with two of them coming on Friday night in Spain’s capital as Real Madrid meet Real Betis at the Bernabéu and as Rayo Vallecano take on Levante UD in Vallecas.

For the champions, this will be their final game before the Champions League final and Carlo Ancelotti is expected to field a strong line-up, as he wants to travel to Paris on the back of a morale-boosting result.

There is one game taking place this Saturday, with Valencia CF taking on RC Celta at Mestalla. This is an important match for Iago Aspas, who is on course to win a record-equalling fourth Zarra Trophy, given out each year to the top Spanish goalscorer of LaLiga Santander.

He’ll hope to add to his tally of 18 goals to win that prize in style. Elche CF vs Getafe CF is the other match that’ll be taking place this weekend, with these two sides meeting on Sunday afternoon and coming into that clash level on 39 points.

Already safe from relegation, they’ll hope to finish their successful campaigns on a high. Then, after that warm-up, the Sunday night drama of the race towards Europe and the relegation battle will begin.

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