Three key issues to watch for in La Liga this weekend

AFP , Friday 17 May 2024

As La Liga reaches its penultimate week AFP Sport looks at three hot topics in Spain this weekend.

Real Betis
Real Betis will be sweating on Isco s fitness ahead of the clash against Real Sociedad in the battle for Europa League qualification. AFP

 

Real Madrid have been crowned champions, Barcelona, Girona and Atletico have sealed Champions League qualification, while Almeria and Granada are down, but there are still some key issues to be resolved.

Europa League battle

Real Sociedad and Real Betis clash in a tussle to secure Europa League football next season on Sunday. La Real, sixth, travel to Seville to face Betis, seventh, leading by a single point.

The hosts are sweating on the fitness of midfielders Isco and Guido Rodriguez after both sustained knocks in the 2-2 draw at Las Palmas on Thursday.

"It's a very important game, we have the chance to play it at home and we'll try to finish as high up as possible," said Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini.

Real Sociedad snatched a 1-0 win against Valencia on Thursday to leapfrog Betis, which ensured they will compete in Europe for the fifth season running -- what is yet to be confirmed is the competition.

Spanish goalkeeper Alex Remiro excelled against Valencia and he could be key at the sold-out Benito Villamarin, with Betis fans driving their team forward.

Cadiz still clinging on

It hasn't been pretty but Cadiz scraped two 1-0 wins in their last two matches to keep clinging on for dear life in 18th place, hoping for a survival miracle.

Currently the Yellow Submarine are four points from safety and host Las Palmas on Sunday, a team without a win in 12 La Liga matches.

If Cadiz win that match they will have a chance of staying up on the final day of the season, even if they would still be relying on other results going their way to avoid the fate of Granada and Almeria.

Meanwhile the race for promotion to La Liga from the second division is tight with several teams close at the top.

Currently Real Valladolid and Leganes hold the automatic promotion spots with three matches remaining, with Eibar and Espanyol still in the hunt too.

Eyes on Xavi

Barcelona host lowly Rayo Vallecano on Sunday with heavy focus on coach Xavi Hernandez.

The Catalan decided to stay at the helm despite initially announcing in January he would leave Barcelona and had been worn down by the job.

However after he pointed out Barcelona's financial struggles, Spanish media reported president Joan Laporta was upset with the coach and decided not to travel for the team's 2-0 win at Almeria on Thursday as a result.

Barcelona are looking to seal second place ahead of Girona and if Rayo cause an upset on Sunday it could upset Laporta even more.

The Barcelona chief is not the calmest character and stranger things have happened at the rollercoaster club than there being another twist in Xavi's future.

Player to watch: Alexander Sorloth

Even though Villarreal have underperformed and sit in mid-table, Norwegian striker Sorloth is in spectacular form. The striker has 19 goals, trailing La Liga's top scorer Artem Dovbyk by one goal. Five of the Girona striker's goals have come from the penalty spot, while none of Sorloth's have. Villarreal welcome new champions Real Madrid on Sunday and Sorloth offers the hosts' main hope of an upset.

Key stats

2 - Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann is the only player to have netted two hat-tricks this season in the top flight

163 - Cadiz striker Chris Ramos has won the most aerial duels in the league

500 - Sevilla full-back Jesus Navas, departing at the end of the season, reached a milestone La Liga appearance number for the club this week

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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