x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

All to play for on final day in Primera Liga

Tantalising games in the hunt for Europe and the battle to avoid the drop, writes Andy Mitten. Audio interviews

Real Zaragoza travel to Getafe on Sunday hoping to preserve their top-flight status.
Real Zaragoza travel to Getafe on Sunday hoping to preserve their top-flight status.

So the Spanish League is predictable?

The dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona certainly is, but the rest of the league is anything but.

Going into this weekend's 38th and final round of matches, seven of the 10 league matches will have a direct bearing on who gets relegated and who qualifies for Europe.

Resurgent Zaragoza hope to stay up, a feat which seemed impossible when they were well adrift at the bottom of the table in February.

Now they have what one mathematician has estimated, taking into account all probabilities, is a 52 per cent chance of staying up.

Over 8,000 Zaragocistas will travel to Getafe on Sunday to support their team and certainly Getafe, the league's worst-supported team, will not be needing all the tickets.

Zaragoza, on 40 points - 27 of which have been won since mid-February - have the form and history. A similar number of fans saw their side stay up at Levante on the final day last season.

Two from five teams will join Racing Santander in going down. Sporting Gijon are favourites to join their neighbours from along the coast.

Sporting have 37 points, three less than Zaragoza, and play away at a Malaga side set for their first ever Champions League place finish.

Then follow Rayo Vallecano with 40 points (above Zaragoza on goal difference), Villarreal with 41 and Granada with 42, all of whom could go down.

Two of those will meet, with Rayo entertaining Granada, while Villarreal host an Atletico Madrid side intent on leap-frogging Malaga into fourth.

There are often suspicious results at the end of each Spanish season from teams who have nothing to play for. They receive brown envelopes from rivals as an incentive to win - nobody offers inducements to lose - against others (although not illegal, the practice is far from ethically sound), but it is different this year because almost every team needs to win for themselves.

At the top end, six teams are chasing three European places, one in the Champions League, two in the Europa League. Fourth place Malaga have 55 points, Atletico 53, Mallorca 52, Levante (who have just fallen out of the top six for the first time this season) 52, Osasuna 51 and Athletic 49.

Almost every side has everything to play for in what's set to be a dramatic Sunday evening.

Boring in Spain?

Not likely.




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