Madrid : Although the La Liga title was decided last weekend with Real Madrid crowned champions with four games still to play, everything else is up for grabs this season and this weekend’s 35th round of games will be decisive. The matches kick off on Friday night with bottom of the table Levante at home to sixth placed Real Sociedad. Despite improving in recent weeks, Levante are six points from safety and anything other than a win would virtually condemn them to relegation, while Real Sociedad are five points behind fourth placed Atletico Madrid. David Silva is back for the visitors after suspension and should help them recover their form in front of goal, Xinhua reports. Saturday’s opening game is a relegation dogfight between fifth from bottom Mallorca and Granada, who are in the last relegation place, but just a point behind. Whoever wins that game will get a major survival boost, while the loser will be left in deep trouble.
That’s not Saturday’s only vital relegation clash, with fourth bottom Cadiz at home to Elche, who have just about assured their survival with a decent run of results that leave them seven points clear of Saturday’s rivals. Two wins in three matches have given second from bottom Alaves a chance of survival, but they have to get something from their visit to mid-table Celta Vigo, who this week decided to suspend striker Santi Mina following his conviction for sexual abuse. Athletic Club Bilbao could momentarily move into European places if they win their home game against beaten Copa del Rey finalists Valencia. A win for Athletic, who impressed against Atletico Madrid last weekend, would also be revenge for their Copa del Rey semifinal exit to Jose Bordalas’ side in what was a bad-tempered tie. Saturday ends with Betis at home to FC Barcelona in another key match as Betis look to challenge for fourth place against Barca, who still have work to do to assure they finish second and qualify for next season’s Supercup. Betis were frustrated by Getafe on Monday night, while Barca were unimpressive in their narrow win against Mallorca and although Ansu Fati should get some minutes, they will probably be without Gerard Pique and Pedri for what looks like it will be a close game.
The Madrid derby is the big match on Sunday and controversy seems to be assured after Atletico have insinuated they will not form the traditional ‘guard of honor’ for the newly crowned champions. Real Madrid have nothing to play for other than pride and will now have their sights fixed on the Champions League final after another miracle recovery against Manchester City on Wednesday night, while Atletico are in danger of missing out on the top-four and need to improve on a record of just one goal in their last six games in all competitions. Villarreal went out of the Champions League after a brave display against Liverpool on Tuesday, but their European future for next season is in danger and Unai Emery’s side needs a win in their home game against third placed Sevilla, whose form has deserted them in the second half of the season. Gerard Moreno and Arnaut Danjuma are both doubts for Villarreal. Getafe aren’t completely safe from relegation yet, although a home win against Rayo Vallecano would probably see them safe, while Espanyol and Osasuna face each other with the home side needing the points slightly more than their visitors.