x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Five fight it out to beat the drop

One of five teams in Spain will be relegated tonight as the Primera Liga concludes its 38 game calendar.

Osasuna's Ricardo, right, has called for more support from the club's fans as they try to avoid relegation.
Osasuna's Ricardo, right, has called for more support from the club's fans as they try to avoid relegation.

One of five teams in Spain will be relegated tonight as the Primera Liga concludes its 38 game calendar. Just two points separate Sporting Gijon, Osasuna, Real Betis, Getafe and Real Valladolid, with all hoping for the win to guarantee safety and prevent them joining the already relegated Numancia and Recreativo Huelva in the second division next season.

Betis host a Valladolid side who have picked up just three points from a possible 30 recently. The Andalusians have problems of their own with their fans having turned against the team, but Chilean forward Mark Gonzalez is confident supporters will get behind them when it matters. "We aren't nervous or feeling the pressure, but are confident the fans will be with us," he said. "We will be 56,000 against 11."

Another player who has appealed for fan support is Osasuna keeper Ricardo. His side are coached by Real Madrid legend Jose Antonio Camacho and Ricardo said: "We need the fans to be our No 12. The players have to play at 120 per cent, but the fans can help us win this game. "We're a proud team who were bottom of the table at Christmas but we fought our way out of that mess and reached 11th place. We don't want to go back down."

The Navarrans, who won against a weakened Barcelona at the Camp Nou last week after going six games without victory, will be at full strength at home to Real. Second-place Real have only pride to play for and have been distracted by their upcoming presidential elections. Candidate Eduardo Garcia withdrew on Friday, leaving Florentino Perez as the only contender. Perez will work with Jorge Valdano, his sporting director during the "Galactico years" of his previous presidency to find a new Real coach this summer. "Five or six world class signings" are promised by Perez. His words have helped Real fans think of the future rather than a present in which rivals Barcelona are being lauded as the greatest side in the world after becoming the first Spanish team to win the treble of the Primera Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

Real's tiny neighbours Getafe, who have won two and drawn one of their last three games, visit mid-table Racing Santander while Sporting Gijon need a result to climb out of the relegation zone. Sporting have won their last two games and boast a full squad for their game against Recreativo. amitten@thenational.ae