This season’s relegation battle, Europa League places and thrilling title race will all be decided on the final matchday of LaLiga this weekend.
After several changes to the dates and times of these games, it is Saturday afternoon at 18:00 CEST where all of the decisive encounters will take place.
The title race
It is Atlético Madrid, after their spirited comeback against Osasuna in the penultimate match of the campaign, who are currently overwhelming favourites to win their second title under Diego Simeone.
Los Colchoneros go into Saturday knowing that a win against Real Valladolid will guarantee them the title, whatever happens elsewhere.
If they fail to win, and Real Madrid win against Villarreal, Real Madrid will be crowned champions on a better head-to-head against their cross-city rivals.
Despite this seemingly favourable situation, the title is far from a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, Atlético’s opponents Real Valladolid must win themselves in order to have any chance of avoiding relegation. A draw will not be enough for Sergio Gonzalez’s men.
Real Madrid meanwhile, as aforementioned, need to beat Villarreal and hope that Atlético Madrid fail to win.
A draw is simply not enough for Zinedine Zidane, in what could be his last match at the helm.
Third place Barcelona are now completely out of the running for the league after their 2-1 defeat at home against Celta Vigo last week.
They need to beat already relegated Eibar to secure third place, otherwise Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla, who play on the following day, will be pouncing.
As mentioned in last week’s preview, Villarreal are in the peculiar position of not knowing whether they will be playing in next season’s Champions League, Europa League or the inaugural Conference League.
There is still a three-way battle between Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal for the two remaining Europa League places.
If Real Sociedad and Real Betis both beat Osasuna and Celta Vigo respectively, they will return to Europe’s second competition.
But they know Unai Emery’s side are only one point behind them and would be ready to overtake should either side slip up.
With Villarreal having this tough fixture against Real Madrid and a Europa League final four days later to consider, it is unclear as to whether Unai Emery will decide to play his first-choice XI.
We shall find out on Saturday.
The relegation zone
The battle to avoid the drop promises to be exciting, although after last week’s results we know that Eibar are down whilst Álaves and Getafe have both confirmed their place in La Liga for the 2021/22 season.
Two out of three from Huesca, Elche and Real Valladolid will relegate on Saturday.
And it is Huesca who have the psychological and points advantage.
A win at home against Valencia (albeit a team who are in good form) confirms their place in the top-flight, no matter what the other sides do.
But if the Aragonese side fail to win, there is still a chance one of the remaining two clubs could avoid the drop.
This is where head-to-head comes into it.
Elche have the same amount of points as Huesca (33), whilst Real Valladolid have 31.
Here are the permutations:
A Huesca win would relegate the other two clubs.
If Huesca draw and both sides fail to win, they are also safe.
If Huesca lose or draw and Elche win, Elche are safe.
A Huesca draw would relegate Real Valladolid, but they need Elche to fail to win.
If both Huesca and Elche lose and Real Valladolid win, the latter are safe.
If they all lose, Huesca are safe.
Elsewhere in LaLiga, Levante play Cádiz on Friday night, Granada host Getafe and Sevilla play Alavés.
All of these clubs can start thinking about next season, although Sevilla, as mentioned earlier, could finish as high as third, though they would need Barcelona to lose/draw and they themselves win 24 hours later.
The scene is set. The title race, Europa League fight and relegation battle will all be decided on Saturday evening. 90 minutes of pure drama.
Here are the fixtures in full and their corresponding times/dates.
Friday 21st May
Levante – Cádiz (21:00 CEST)
Saturday 22nd May (18:00 CEST)
Celta Vigo – Real Betis
Eibar – Barcelona
Elche – Athletic Club
Osasuna – Real Sociedad
Real Madrid – Villarreal
Real Valladolid – Atlético Madrid
Huesca – Valencia
Sunday 23rd May
Granada – Getafe (18:30 CEST)
Sevilla – Alavés (21:00 CEST)