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La Liga: All to play for at both ends of the table

La Liga: All to play for at both ends of the table

There is still much to be decided at both the top and bottom of La Liga as the season comes to a dramatic conclusion.

While the title tussle between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at Camp Nou will command the greatest attention, the battle to avoid the drop promises just as much excitement.

Diego Simeone takes his Atleti side to the home of the Catalan giants on Saturday knowing a draw or a win will see them clinch their first La Liga crown since 1996, when the Argentine was a player at Vicente Calderon.

However, a win for the hosts will bring them level on 89 points with Atleti, and see them lift the trophy due to their superior head-to-head record, following a 0-0 draw in Madrid in January.

Victory for Barca would ease the pressure on under-fire boss Gerardo Martino, who has taken much of the blame after their Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League defeats left them with just the league to fight for.

Scrapping equally hard, but for completely different reasons, will be the five teams who go into the final day in danger of dropping into Spain's second tier.

While Real Betis cut adrift at the bottom, three points separate the five teams from 15th to 19th, with the three sides above the drop zone at least knowing that their fate is in their own hands.

With 18th-placed Osasuna on 36 points heading into Sunday's games, Almeria and Getafe know a draw - against Athletic Bilbao and Rayo Vallecano respectively - will see them secure their top-flight status.

Granada, in 17th, have 38 points, but a draw at second-from-bottom Real Valladolid will also be enough for them, regardless of Osasuna's result, as they hold the superior head-to-head record.

For Osasuna to survive, they would have to beat Betis at home and hope for one of Granada and Getafe to lose.

For Valladolid to secure safety, they would have to beat Granada and hope that either Osasuna fail to take maximum points against Betis, or that Getafe lose at Vallecano.

The race to qualify for the UEFA Europa League is already decided, with fifth-placed Sevilla - who contest the final of this year's competition on Wednesday - hosting Elche, while sixth plays seventh as Real Sociedad welcome Villarreal.

Real Madrid, no longer in with a chance of winning the title, may rest players ahead of their Champions League final with bitter rivals Atleti on May 24 when they bring the curtain down on their domestic season at home to Espanyol.

Elsewhere, Malaga play host to Levante and Celta Vigo visit Valencia.

 

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