Shared kick off times with plenty to play for in La Liga
Madrid, May 27 (IANS) In an attempt to maintain fair competition, all matches from the penultimate round of games in La Liga will kick off simultaneously on Sunday evening, as teams vie for qualification into European tournaments and to avoid relegation.
Real Sociedad, just one win away from cementing their place in next season's Champions League, face a formidable challenge visiting Atletico Madrid without David Silva, who is sidelined with a calf injury. Atletico, after surrendering a 3-0 lead to Espanyol in midweek, are vying for second place in the league and unlikely to show mercy, reports Xinhua.
Villarreal, needing victories in their remaining games and Real Sociedad's losses to finish fourth, are visiting a lackadaisical Rayo Vallecano under the leadership of in-form Nicolas Jackson.
Betis could secure their Europa League spot with just a draw with Girona. However, Girona are still within reach of seventh place and a potential qualification into the Conference League.
Osasuna's recent home win over Athletic Bilbao has boosted them to seventh place. With two victories in the final matches, they can assure their European qualification next season.
Getafe, deeply entwined in a relegation battle, host the beaten Copa del Rey finalists. A win against Betis has lifted Getafe to 16th in the table, but they are tied on points with Cadiz and Valladolid below them. Getafe will play without their top scorer Enes Unal, who is nursing a torn cruciate knee ligament.
Athletic Bilbao, coached by Ernesto Valverde, must win against Elche to keep their European dreams alive for next season. They are missing the injured quartet of Dani Garcia, Yeray Alvarez, Ander Herrera, and Inigo Martinez.
Sevilla could also land in seventh place. But with the Europa League final against Roma looming next week, coach Jose Luis Mendilibar will be resting players for the home match against Real Madrid.
This match is scheduled for Saturday, providing Sevilla with preparation time for the final. It will be intriguing to witness the Sevilla fans' reaction following the racist abuse suffered by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. last week in Valencia.
A crucial fixture awaits Valencia and second-from-bottom Espanyol. A win could secure Valencia's survival, virtually relegating Espanyol to the second division next season.
Almeria, sitting just a point above the last relegation spot, will host Valladolid. Despite home striker Luis Suarez's suspension, Almeria are optimistic about their home form.
Cadiz's match against Celta Vigo is also set to be nerve-wracking. Both teams hover precariously above the bottom three. Celta's disastrous run, with just one win in their last ten games, has plunged them into an unexpected relegation battle.
Emotions are likely to run high at the Camp Nou Stadium as Barcelona play their last game before the ground's refurbishment. This game will mark the final appearance of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, both of whom have announced their departure at season's end. After 15 and 11 respective seasons with the first team, they are set for an emotional send-off.