La Liga heads into its final weekend, and it is set to be a thriller as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid battle it out for the title, whilst the scrap to stay in the division could not be tighter.
Scarcely could a more exciting ending be dreamed up than Barca hosting Atletico in the last match of the season with the title on the line. The Catalans must win the game whilst Atletico know that a draw would suffice for them to get their hands on the famous trophy.
There has been plenty of hype in the build up to this one, some of which has not proved too popular, per Robert Rea of BBC:
Xavi says Barcelona "deserve" to win La Liga rather than Atletico Madrid.And unwittingly exposes the vile arrogance at the root of that club— Robert Rea (@robertrea) May 14, 2014
It is certainly going to be a viable alternative to the FA Cup final on Saturday afternoon.
The relegation fight is also going into the last weekend, and there could be an immensely complicated scenario to unravel. There is potential for four teams to end level on points, which would see the head-to-head results between all of them taken into account.
There are too many permutations to explain, but it is safe to say there will be plenty of twists and turns on Sunday.
|16 May||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Malaga||vs||Levante||N/A||0-1|
|17 May||3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET||Real Madrid||vs||Espanyol||N/A||2-1|
|17 May||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Barcelona||vs||Atletico Madrid||Sky Go app (subscription required)||2-2|
|17 May||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Valencia||vs||Celta de Vigo||N/A||1-1|
|18 May||11 a.m. BST/6 a.m. ET||Real Sociedad||vs||Villarreal||N/A||2-0|
|18 May||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Rayo Vallecano||vs||Getafe||N/A||0-0|
|18 May||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Almeria||vs||Athletic Club||N/A||1-1|
|18 May||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Real Valladolid||vs||Granada||Sky Go app (subscription required)||2-1|
|18 May||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Osasuna||vs||Real Betis||N/A||1-0|
|18 May||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Sevilla||vs||Elche||N/A||0-1|
Key Players to Watch
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid: Gabi
Far from the most stylish player that will be on display at the Camp Nou, but if Atletico are to get the result they require, they will need an inspirational performance from their captain.
The 30-year-old is brilliant at breaking up play and a ferocious tackler. He will have to make plenty of challenges over the course of the game in Catalonia, and he will have to track runners from midfield like a hawk.
Gabi has already rallied the troops with some motivational talk in the press, per AS (h/t Goal.com):
We'll get a result at Camp Nou to become champions. In this team we still believe. We are Atletico and we’ll go out to win.
We wanted to become champions on Sunday for all the fans, but we’ll give everything in Barcelona to become champions. We’re used to playing finals.
Although the likes of Diego Costa, Koke and even Thibaut Courtois have grabbed the headlines this year, Gabi has arguably been Atletico's player of the season. One more great performance from him and he could be lifting the La Liga trophy come the end of the match.
Anything could happen in this one, there are so many talented players on show and so much pressure on all of them. Given their big game experience it is tempting to lean toward Barcelona, but Atletico showed they can handle Barca on the big stage when they ousted them from the Champions League.
This will be close, but Atletico will just get the result they need.
This clash will be equally as tense as the one at the Camp Nou, just with less eyes trained on it. The home side must win to survive, whilst the visitors need three points to guarantee safety, although a draw may be enough.
Both are in woeful form, which is why they find themselves in this situation, but one thing Valladolid have in their favour is their superior ability in goalscoring. They have managed seven more goals than their opponents over the season, but more importantly, they have struck five times in their last three games, whilst Granada have managed just one.
8 - Javi Guerra has scored eight away league goals this season; the most by a Valladolid player in La Liga since 2003/04 (eight). Stylet— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 11, 2014
Javi Guerra is Valladolid's main threat having scored 15 times this season and twice in his last outing. The forward has been a consistent goal threat since joining the club in 2010, and as he is leaving for Cardiff City this summer, per Wales Online, a match-winning performance would be a fitting way to sign off at Estadio Jose Zorrilla.
Prediction: Real Valladolid 2-0 Granada