La Liga Lowdown: Relegation Nail-biter In The Final Round
The final relegation place is still undecided in Spain’s Primera División
Real Madrid (1) v Real Betis (5)
Santiago Bernabéu, Fri 20 May 20:00 (Ireland/UK), 21:00 (Spain)
Los Blancos have clearly taken their foot of the gas since securing the title. Despite confirming Levante’s relegation they gave Cádiz a lifeline by fielding a weakened team that could only manage a 1-1 draw. However, with the Champions League final just a week away Ancelotti will likely return to his regular 11 to ensure they are match sharp for Paris. Their visitors have finally secured their own European football and 5th place in the table with a 2-0 win over Granada last time out. These two sides have an even split in recent meetings with 2 wins a piece and 2 draws in their last six. A win for Madrid would be the perfect close out to their season and a fitting farewell to club captain Marcelo. The Brazilian will line out for the final time at the Bernabéu after playing 545 games in white.
Alavés (20) v Cádiz (18)
Mendizorroza, Sun 22 May 19:00 (Ireland/UK), 20:00 (Spain)
Cádiz still have a very real chance of survival but may need results elsewhere to go their way to secure their place. Of the teams still scrapping it out, Los Piratas have the best chance. They visit Alavés whose relegation was rubberstamped last week with their loss to Levante. The away side could have made themselves significantly more comfortably had Alvaro Negredo converted his penalty against Madrid which would have secured the three points. Alavés’ run in the Primera came to an end after weeks of battling when one too many losses finally caught up them. They suffered 7 defeats in their last 10 (W3 L7) which ultimately left them propping up the table. Babazorros were finally brought down by relegated Levante and may end up doing the same to their visitors on Sunday.
Osasuna (9) v Mallorca (17)
El Sadar, Sun 22 May 19:00 (Ireland/UK), 20:00 (Spain)
By the time Mallorca take to the field they should know whether they are safe or not. However, they may also be facing a must win encounter against a side in the top half of the table. Fortunately for the islanders, their hosts actually have a better record on the road then they do at home. That being said they have won 3 of their last 5 at El Sadar (W3 D1 L1). This includes wins against Levante and Alavés so they have form against the lower teams. 7 straight losses from February to April is what put Mallorca in the perilous position they currently find themselves in. Since being brutalised by Granada in a 2-6 thrashing they have claimed 4 points from a possible 6 to keep their heads just above water. The visitors will be hoping that Osasuna have one eye on the beach and will not be overly concerned with Mallorca struggles.
Best Game of the Round
Levante 3-1 Alavés
This was a case of if we are going down we are bringing you down with us as Levante consigned Alavés to the Segunda Division. The visitors gave themselves the perfect start when Joselu netted his 14th of the season. The veteran striker showed some wonderful skill to chest down Laguardia’s long ball into the box. The Spaniard was then able to prod home his effort from close range. 8 minutes after the restart the sides were level when Óscar Duarte powered home an excellent header from Morales’ corner. The ball crashed off the underside of the bar into the net. The warning signs were readily apparent for the visiting fans who knew their side were in trouble.
Second half misery for Alavés
Los Granotes second came as a result of some last ditch defending by Navarro. The right back flicked the ball off Morales’ toe as he advanced into the box but ended up forcing a save from his own goalkeeper. The ball rebounded only as far as Roger Martí at the edge of the box who struck a low drive into the bottom corner. The final nail in the Alavés coffin was driven home by El Commandante after an excellent passing move by the home side. Dani Gomez played a superb ball to the byline that Campana was just about able to get on the end of. The midfilder squared an inviting cross that found his captain unmarked in the area. Morales didn’t need to be asked twice to bag a goal in the final home game of the season.
Best Goal of the Round
Juanmi (2) v Granada
This was the kind of goal that gives defenders nightmares. The Grandad rear-guard thought they had denied the Betis’ forward his second of the night only to be proven wrong by VAR. Juanmi had in fact timed his run to absolute perfection as Rodri played a speculative long ball forward. The defenders who thought they had laid the perfect offside trap suddenly found themselves 10 yards behind the striker who just had the keeper to beat. The Spaniard had all the time in the world to pick his spot and beat Luis Maximiano to register his 16th goal of the campaign.
And the rest…
Rayo Vallecano (12) v Levante (19), Fri 20 May 20:00 (Ireland/UK), 21:00 (Spain)
Valencia (11) v Celta Vigo (10), Sat 21 May 16:30 (Ireland/UK), 17:30 (Spain)
Elche (15) v Getafe (14), Sun 22 May 16:30 (Ireland/UK), 17:30 (Spain)
Granada (16) v Espanyol (13), Sun 22 May 19:00 (Ireland/UK), 20:00 (Spain)
Barcelona (2) v Villarreal (7), Sun 22 May 21:00 (Ireland/UK), 22:00 (Spain)
Real Sociedad (6) v Atlético Madrid (3), Sun 22 May 21:00 (Ireland/UK), 22:00 (Spain)
Sevilla (4) v Athletic Bilbao (8), Sun 22 May 21:00 (Ireland/UK), 22:00 (Spain)
Cádiz To Win & BTTS @ 11/4
Mallorca To Win @ 6/5
The above in a double @ 15/2