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La Liga: Relegation, Europe Spots Still Big Issues In Penultimate Round (preview) On Cricketnmore

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Benito Villamarin Stadium: Avoiding relegation and qualifying for Europe are the two big issues remaining on the penultimate round of matches to be played in La Liga this weekend.

All of the matches are set to be played at 19:00 local time on Sunday evening, with the exception of Friday’s match between Alaves and Getafe, neither of whom have anything to play for as they sit in mid-table security with no chance of playing in Europe next year, reported Xinhua.

In the relegation battle, everything could be decided in one game, because if Las Palmas win away to Cadiz, then Cadiz will join Almeria and Granada in dropping to the second division, irrespective of what happens elsewhere.

Cadiz’s epic last-minute win away to Sevilla on Wednesday keeps them alive in the survival race, but they go into the penultimate round of matches four points behind Mallorca, five points behind Celta Vigo and six behind Rayo Vallecano and Las Palmas.

Las Palmas ended an eight-game losing run with a 2-2 draw at home to Real Betis on Thursday, but will have to show personality in front of packed stands as Cadiz look for a miracle.

The fact that head-to-head goal difference is taken into account before overall goal difference to separate teams that are level on points places extra emphasis on Las Palmas’ need to avoid defeat, and will leave the other teams all watching closely.

Rayo, Mallorca and Celta are all level on head-to-head goal difference with Cadiz, but all have a significantly better overall goal difference, meaning they would survive if they end level on points.

That means Rayo are all but assured of safety even if they lose away to FC Barcelona, where rumors over the future of coach Xavi Hernandez continue to gain strength, despite Xavi’s U-turn last month on his decision to leave at the end of the campaign.

Celta travel to already-relegated Granada, needing a win to ensure their survival, but knowing that a draw will almost certainly mean they remain in the elite next year.

Mallorca are at home to bottom side Almeria and need a win to confirm they will be in the top flight next season, irrespective of the result in Cadiz.

Betis and Real Sociedad play a game which could decide who finishes sixth and plays in next season’s Europa League and who is likely to play in the Conference League.

Real Sociedad take a one-point advantage to the Benito Villamarin Stadium, although they are without Spain international Martin Zubimendi.

Betis are unbeaten in their last six games, with four wins and two draws ahead of a vital fixture for both sides.

Villarreal also have an outside chance of finishing seventh, but their European hopes rely on them beating Real Madrid whose coach Carlo Ancelotti will continue with squad rotation to both rest key players and give time to squad members ahead of the Champions League final.

Girona look to have lost their chance of finishing second after this week’s defeat to Villarreal, and their slim options rely on their winning away to a Valencia side whose squad limitations have been exposed in an end of season with four defeats in their last five games.

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