As the La Liga season draws to a close this weekend, the battle to beat the drop, unlike the title race, is far from over as four sides head into the final round of league games with the possibility of relegation looming, with no side yet mathematically relegated.
Three from Deportivo La Coruna, Celta Vigo, Real Zaragoza and Real Mallorca will be compounded to Spanish Segunda football next term, all of whom coincidentally play their last match of the campaign on home soil to make for an exciting finish.
Here’s what the four clubs have in store on Saturday evening:
Deportivo La Coruna (17th – 35 points)
Despite Deportivo’s fate remaining in their own hands, with victory guaranteeing their survival as they sit one point above the dropzone, they have arguably the toughest test of the four teams as they play host to Champions League hopefuls Real Sociedad.
Fernando Vazquez’s men head into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat at Malaga last weekend, but will take some comfort from the fact they have not been beaten at the Estadio Riazor in six matches, and also secured a 1-1 draw at Sociedad in January.
The visitors, however, have lost just one of their last 19 league outings, as they aim to pip Valencia to fourth spot having slipped to fifth place last weekend following their 3-3 draw at home to Real Madrid, courtesy of a stoppage-time equaliser.
Only Barcelona and Madrid have scored more goals than Sociedad this campaign, and they have netted at least twice in four of their last five outings, while just bottom club Mallorca have conceded more than Deportivo, so there is the potential for goals and over 2.5 at 53/100 looks like a sound bet.
Philippe Montanier’s side are priced as favourites to secure maximum points at 7/5, which could still see Deportivo survive, with the draw at 14/5, while a seventh home success of the season for the hosts can be backed at 31/20.
Celta Vigo (18th – 34 points)
Celta Vigo’s 2-0 victory away at Real Valladolid last weekend gave their chances of survival a major boost as they moved to within one point of safety ahead of the visit of Espanyol, who come into the match on a bad run of form and nothing to play for.
The visitors have picked up just one point from the last 15 available, and their previous two matches have ended in defeat, which has in large part been due to their difficulty finding the net in recent weeks, having scored just one goal in their last five matches.
The Espanyol players look to have been on their summer holidays for the past month as they sit comfortably in mid-table, and Celta will rightly fancy their chances of avenging their narrow 1-0 loss in the corresponding fixture between the sides back in January.
Of the nine wins that Celta have picked up this term, six have come at home, while Espanyol have conceded five without reply in their last two away trips, and given what is at stake for Paco Herrera’s men, a Celta win looks to be on the cards.
The home side are unsurprisingly odds-on favourites to keep the pressure on local rivals Deportivo by securing all three points at 9/20, with the draw at 15/4, while a first win in six for Espanyol to condemn Celta to the second tier is priced at 9/2.
Real Zaragoza (19th – 34 points)
While opponents Atletico Madrid may not have anything to play for as they are guaranteed a third place finish no matter what the result, there’s certainly easier fixtures Real Zaragoza could have had given what is at stake for the club.
Zaragoza went down 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon earlier this year, their fifth defeat against Atletico in the last seven meetings between the clubs, and they head into this game on the back of successive losses, the last a 4-0 thrashing at Real Betis.
They have picked up just two wins since the turn of the year, and have failed to find the net in 18 matches this season, a worrying statistic considering they welcome the league’s meanest defence, who have recorded 20 clean sheets in total this term.
The match looks set to be the last in an Atletico shirt for striker Radamel Falcao, with the coveted striker, who has notched 28 league goals in 34 games, likely to join French moneybags Monaco this summer following a successful two seasons in Madrid.
Given the respective situations at both clubs, and Zaragoza desperate for the win, they are priced at 21/20 to secure maximum points over Diego Simeone’s men, with the draw at 13/5, while a league double over their hosts for Atletico can be backed at 23/10.
Real Mallorca (20th – 33 points)
Bottom club Real Mallorca have given themselves a fighting chance of survival after picking up a win and a draw in their last two outings, and their slim chances of La Liga football next season rests on them beating Real Valladolid at the Iberostar Stadium.
The visitors sit safely in 14th position, nine points above the dropzone with little to play for, a great scenario for Mallorca, providing them with a good opportunity to return the favour after they went down to a 3-1 defeat at Valladolid back in January.
Valladolid come into the game on the back of four defeats in their last five, including their last two, albeit two of those defeats narrow 4-3 and 2-1 losses away at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, so they aren’t likely to be pushovers this weekend.
Mallorca will however take some comfort from the fact that Valladolid have picked up just four wins on their travels this season, their last coming at the end of February, while the hosts have won their last six home encounters between two the clubs.
Joaquín Caparros’ men are odds-on favourites to end the season with a win at 9/20, which could still see them go down, while the players head into the game knowing relegation would be confirmed with a draw, at 7/2, or a Valladolid win, at 21/4.