Sunday evening is dominated by the penultimate matchday of LaLiga, where despite the title and top-4 being either confirmed, or all but confirmed, there is plenty of intrigue remaining with an almighty scrap at the bottom, with anyone from Valencia in 13th down to Espanyol in 19th all fighting to survive.
There is also a tight race for 7th, the final European place, with Osasuna, Athletic Club, Girona and Sevilla all separated by a single point with two games to go.
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Barcelona v Mallorca
Already crowned champions, Barcelona have little left to play for this season but this will be a special occasion as it involves a Camp Nou farewell to club legends Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Mallorca arrive into this game still harbouring hopes of sneaking into the final European spot but know that they have plenty of competition.
This season, much of Barcelona’s campaign has been based upon defensive resilience, with only four goals conceded at the Camp Nou in 18 games. Barça have not been prolific either, averaging 1.17 goals per game in their last six matches on home turf, failing to score twice and only scoring more than one goal in one of those six games.
Equally, an incredible 72% of Mallorca’s matches this season have ended with under 2.5 goals. Javier Aguirre has been a tough rival for Barcelona to overcome too, with the Catalans unable to win by more than a single goal in any of his last six matches against them. Ensuring that his team concedes as few as possible will be a crucial part of his game plan this weekend.
Barcelona have lost back to back games against Real Sociedad and Valladolid, and a repeat seems unlikely in this case, but it certainly shouldn’t be a thrashing given Mallorca’s solid defensive form this season.
Getafe v Osasuna
There is a lot at stake for both Getafe and Osasuna this Sunday. Getafe are level on points with the last relegation spot, but currently on the right side of the drop zone. Meanwhile, Osasuna are currently level on points with Athletic Club but it’s they who sit seventh and in the final European qualification spot, which they’ll want to keep hold of.
This could produce a cagey game, especially because a draw would be very useful for both these sides’ objectives as they head into the final round, since Osasuna’s rivals Athletic Club visit Real Madrid on the final day and since Getafe get to take on direct rivals Real Valladolid in Matchday 38. Of course they’d both rather win, but avoiding defeat should be the priority this weekend.
That might make this a low-scoring affair, not least because of how these teams play controlled and largely unadventurous football. Over the whole season so far, both these sides are in the bottom three for total goals in the matches they’ve been involved in. Osasuna are bottom for this stat, as their fixtures have produced just 2.03 goals on average this season, while Getafe are third-bottom with an average of 2.11 goals per game.
Since the return of José Bordalás as Getafe coach, with his ultra-defensive scheme, that number is even lower. Just six total goals have been scored in Getafe’s five matches since he returned to the dugout, an average of 1.20 goals per game. This really could be a game of few goals on Sunday.
Cadiz v Celta Vigo
Cádiz vs Celta Vigo is one of various relegation six-pointers taking place this weekend and Los Amarillos will feel confident given that they won their past two home matches, which were also against relegation rivals as they defeated Valencia 2-1 and Real Valladolid 2-0. On top of that, Celta Vigo’s away form is poor and the Galicians have lost their past four away games.
Not only are Celta Vigo in poor form, with only one victory in the past two months and with that win coming at home to bottom-placed Elche, but the club is also in chaos. The club president required a police escort to escape the stadium after the midweek draw with Girona, while the fans remonstrated with the squad and captain Hugo Duro injured his arm by punching an advertising board, an injury which makes him a major doubt for this trip. Star striker Iago Aspas is far from 100 percent too, even if he may play through a lingering back injury.
Celta Vigo really are in trouble, on and off the pitch, and a well-organised Cádiz team should be able to take advantage of this, especially at home in front of their fans. They haven’t lost at home this season against any of the other teams in the bottom half of the table, with four wins and four draws from the eight fixtures they’ve had so far against the sides currently in the bottom half. They’ll be confident of another positive result on Sunday against a struggling Celta Vigo side.
Almeria v Real Valladolid
This is another relegation six-pointer as Real Valladolid, in 18th on 38 points, visit Almería, in 15th on 39 points. Not only is this a vitally important game, but the styles of these teams should make it an entertaining one. Both teams have gone for an approach of outscoring their opponents in recent weeks. Neither Rubi nor Paulo Pezzolano are known for their defensive resilience or conservative strategy, and it seems that such bravery could lead to goals on Sunday evening.
No team outside of the bottom three has conceded more than Almería with 1.72 goals conceded per 90 this season, while only two teams outside the top five have scored more. In total, 61% of their matches this campaign have ended with over 2.5 goals, including nine games in a row before Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad, and that trend looks set to continue.
Real Valladolid have also had over 2.5 goals in 56% of matches, including 78% of Paulo Pezzolano’s nine games in charge since replacing Pacheta. That peaked with a 3-1 victory over LaLiga champions Barcelona in midweek, with Canadian forward Cyle Larin scoring his eighth goal in 17 games since joining in January.
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