Lot at stake in La Liga's penultimate weekend
Posted on May 09 2014 | IANS
Madrid, May 9 : Spain's BBVA Primera Liga reaches its penultimate round in what could be a potentially decisive weekend both at the top and the bottom of the table.
If Atletico Madrid win their home game against Malaga Sunday night and FC Barcelona fail to win away to Elche, Atletico will be crowned champions no matter what happens elsewhere, reports Xinhua.
However, if Barcelona also win, then the title will be decided in an all or nothing showdown in the Camp Nou Stadium next weekend.
Real Madrid's failure to win in Valladolid Wednesday night opened up those possibilities and threw Barca a lifeline they were not expecting a week ago when all the talk was of the probable departure of Tata Martino and how the club had to do better.
Now Lionel Messi says Barca have a lifeline they can't afford to let slip, while the Atletico fans will pack the Vicente Calderon Stadium for a game that could see them win the league.
Atletico will be without Diego Costa who has a slight muscle problem and David Villa and Adrian Lopez will lead the attack.
Real Madrid still have mathematical chance of winning the title, but even if they win away to Celta Vigo, whose coach Luis Enrique is still favourite to take over at Barcelona, Carlo Ancelotti's men need both Barca and Atletico to slip up.
With Athletic Club Bilbao assured of fourth place and looking to celebrate in the Basque derby at home to Real Sociedad the rest of the games, which will all be played Sunday afternoon, deal with the issue of relegation.
Real Betis are already relegeted and will play next season in the second division while second from bottom Osasuna (35 points) and third bottom Getafe (36 points) are favourites to join them.
However, with six points still up for grabs and eight sides still with a chance of occupying the two relegation places, anything can still happen.
Osasuna travel to play Espanyol who need a point of assuring their own top flight status, while Getafe are at home to Sevilla, who will rest most of their first choice players ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final.
Almeria and Valladolid have the same number of points as Getafe and know they are under pressure in their games. Almeria are away to Granada, who with 38 points are not safe yet, while Valladolid travel to already relegated Betis.
Elche (39 points) entertain Barcelona, while Malaga (41) visit Atletico Madrid on a day when everything or nothing could be decided.