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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

European spot, relegation battle headline LaLiga Matchday 38 fixtures

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Fans of Spanish football can expect a very entertaining end to the 2021/22 LaLiga season, as the race to claim the final European qualification spot and the battle to avoid relegation will be decided on Matchday 38.

Granada, Mallorca and Cádiz are the three teams who could join already-relegated Deportivo Alavés and Levante in dropping down to the LaLiga SmartBank level. Currently, Cádiz are sitting in the third and final relegation spot, but are level on points with Mallorca, who hold the tiebreaker, while the Amarillos are just one point behind Andalusian neighbours, Granada.

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All three of these teams at risk have fixtures that are winnable but tricky in their way, with Granada at home to Espanyol, Mallorca visiting the mainland to take on Osasuna and Cádiz going north to face Deportivo Alavés. Those three fixtures will take place simultaneously at 8:00 p.m. CEST on Sunday and the positions in the table could change multiple times throughout a couple of hours.

As soon as the relegation battle reaches its conclusion, attention will shift to the race for the final European qualification spot.

Villarreal are currently seventh and on course to participate in the UEFA Europa Conference League, but Athletic Club are eighth and just one point behind Unai Emery’s side.

Both these clubs have very difficult fixtures at 22:00 CEST on Sunday, as Villarreal travel to Camp Nou to play Barcelona at the same time as Athletic Club visit Sevilla. Athletic Club are confident, though, as they have pushed the Champions League semi-finalists to the final day and the Basques even hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over their rivals for the last ticket to Europe, should they finish level on points.

At that same time slot on Sunday, Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid will also be in action. These two clubs already know that they’re going to next season’s Europa League and Champions League respectively, but they’ll aim to finish as high as possible as La Real could come fifth and Atleti will look to hold on to third place ahead of Sevilla.

There are four other fixtures taking place in Matchday 38 as well, with two of them coming on Friday night in Spain’s capital as Real Madrid meet Real Betis at the Bernabéu and as Rayo Vallecano take on Levante in Vallecas. For the champions, this will be their final game before the Champions League final and Carlo Ancelotti is expected to field a strong line-up, as he wants to travel to Paris on the back of a morale-boosting result.

There is one game taking place this Saturday, with Valencia taking on Celta at Mestalla. This is an important match for Iago Aspas, who is on course to win a record-equalling fourth Zarra Trophy, given out each year to the top Spanish goalscorer of LaLiga. He’ll hope to add to his tally of 18 goals to win that prize in style.

Elche vs Getafe is the other match that’ll be taking place this weekend, with these two sides meeting on Sunday afternoon and coming into that clash level on 39 points. Already safe from relegation, they’ll hope to finish their successful campaigns on a high.

Then, after that warm-up, the Sunday night drama of the race towards Europe and the relegation battle will begin.

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