Jubilant Madrid visit Granada as Liga relegation battle nears end

Jubilant Madrid visit Granada as Liga relegation battle nears end
Jubilant Madrid visit Granada as Liga relegation battle nears end

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Real Madrid's players celebrate victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and FC Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid May 8, 2024. — AFP pic

BARCELONA, May 10 — New Spanish champions Real Madrid visit suffering Granada on Saturday with La Liga’s key affairs on the verge of being settled, despite four rounds of fixtures remaining.

After Los Blancos wrapped up the title last weekend and Girona secured Champions League qualification, attention turns to the other end of the table.

Granada could already be down before kick-off at their Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium if Real Mallorca, 17th, defeat Las Palmas earlier on.

The Andalucians are above only relegated Almeria and languish 11 points from safety with just 12 to play for. They were promoted last season but are poised to return swiftly to Spain’s second tier.

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Real Madrid defeated Bayern Munich on Wednesday to reach the Champions League final and after putting off their title celebrations last week to focus on that game, will be in party mode.

At least Granada’s supporters will be spared the anguish of watching Madrid’s trophy presentation potentially on the day they are relegated.

Although the Spanish football federation initially planned to give Los Blancos the league trophy on Saturday, they changed their plans and will instead hand it to Madrid on Sunday morning.

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“We will play against Real Madrid to dedicate a victory to our fans, which is what they deserve,” said Granada coach Jose Ramon Sandoval, acknowledging an honourable exit is the most Granada can hope for now.

Cadiz, 18th, trail Mallorca by six points and have a slightly greater chance of survival, although the odds are against them.

They host Getafe on Sunday and a victory would help them at least take their survival battle to the wire.

“It’s difficult to do calculations — we need to always focus on the next match,” said coach Mauricio Pellegrino.

“Our chances will increase if we win the next one.

“We need to improve, rise back up, and compete in front of our fans.”

Higher up the table there are a few minor threads still to fully unravel.

Atletico Madrid are firm favourites to hold on to fourth position to reach next season’s Champions League, sitting six points clear of Athletic Bilbao in fifth.

Diego Simeone’s side welcome lowly Celta Vigo on Sunday after Athletic host out-of-form Osasuna on Saturday.

Real Betis are trying to fend off eighth-place Valencia to finish in the top seven to secure European football next season and have a five-point advantage.

Second-place Girona would dearly love to finish above illustrious but hurting neighbours Barcelona, third, who host a Real Sociedad team still looking to seal a Europa League place on Monday.

Michel Sanchez’s entertaining Girona side visit Alaves with striker Artem Dovbyk aiming to add to his league-leading goal tally of 20.

Player to watch: Nabil Fekir

Finding form after injury, Real Betis’ Algerian playmaker Fekir will pull the strings on Sunday when his team face relegated Almeria. Betis are aiming to finish in the top seven to qualify for Europe next season and with Isco struggling for fitness, Fekir will be tasked with the creative responsibilities at the Benito Villamarin.

Key stats

16 — remarkable number of yellow cards earned by Cadiz defender Ivan Alejo

28 — La Liga matches unbeaten for champions Real Madrid

170 — Girona playmaker Aleix Garcia has produced the most crosses in Spain

Fixtures

Friday

Alaves v Girona (1900)

Saturday

Real Mallorca v Las Palmas (1200), Villarreal v Sevilla (1415), Granada v Real Madrid (1630), Athletic Bilbao v Osasuna (1900)

Sunday

Cadiz v Getafe (1200), Atletico Madrid v Celta Vigo (1415), Valencia v Rayo Vallecano (1630), Real Betis v Almeria (1900)

Monday

Barcelona v Real Sociedad (1900) — AFP

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