Time is running out in Spain as every team will have only five league games left after this week's action. The league had a tough week after Madrid and Barcelona were hammered by a combined 8-1 score in the Champions League, but there's plenty of exciting games on the schedule that should help heal some wounds.
The relegation battle is still wide open with six teams scrambling to avoid losing La Liga's evil version of musical relegation chairs. The battle at the top of European places is intense as well with Real Sociedad facing off against Valencia with fourth place on the line. Oh and Atletico Madrid hosts Real Madrid in the El Derbi madrileño and Barcelona could clinch the title if things break right for them.
Hold on to your butts.
Friday, April 26th
(21:00 CET, 3:00 p.m. ET)
Rayo's attempts to remain in the race for a European spot have taken a blow the last two weeks with a loss and draw that has dropped Rayo five points back of 6th place. Osasuna got a big draw against Real Sociedad last week and remain four points above the drop zone. Both teams are looking for points for different reasons.
Saturday, April 27th
Levante vs. Celta Vigo
(16:00 CET, 10:00 a.m. ET)
Celta hit their survival hopes with a defibrillator shot thanks to a stoppage time win over Real Zaragoza last week. There's a ton of work for Celta to do but they at least moved out of last place and are only two points behind Granada for the all important 17th place position in the table. This week's test is a Levante team that's safely in the mid-table but are slumping badly with three straight losses.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona
(18:00 CET, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Things didn't go so well for Barcelona in Germany on Tuesday but they still had business to take care of in the league. A Barca win combined with a Madrid loss would give the Blaugrana the title, so despite a second leg match looming, they should still be focused on this match. Athletic Bilbao broke a two game losing streak thanks to Fernando Llorente's first goal since the beginning of the season.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
(20:00 CET, 2:00 p.m. ET)
This is easily the biggest game of the week in Spain. It's the battle for second place and an undercard to the Copa del Rey Final on May 17th. Real Madrid were stunned and humiliated by Dortmund in the Champions League and must now decide if they feel like bouncing back against their city rivals. Atletico would love to win this game and pull even on points with Madrid (though they would still trail on goal differential). Madrid's likely weakened lineup could take some of the shine off this but Atletico won't be taking it easy.
Real Zaragoza vs. Mallorca
(22:00 CET, 4:00 p.m. ET)
Say hello to this week's big relegation six-pointer. Last place Zaragoza are still trying to win their first game in 2013 and just sinking like a cement weighted body in a mobster movie. Mallorca could leap back out of the drop zone with a win and some help from Espanyol on Sunday. Both teams need a win at this point, a draw won't really help their plight, so hopefully we'll get a wide open exciting match.
Sunday, April 28th
Espanyol vs. Granada
(12:00 CET, 6:00 a.m. ET)
Espanyol have been very strong in the second half of the season and have risen from the drop zone all the way up to 10th place. This week they face relegation battling Granada who a precariously perched in 17th, one points from being in the dreaded bottom three. This game will mean more on paper to Granada but that doesn't mean Espanyol will roll over.
Malaga vs. Getafe
(17:00 CET, 11:00 a.m. ET)
Malaga were absolutely embarrassed last week by Valencia in a shocking 5-1 loss that dropped them all the way down to 6th place. Their heart breaking Champions League loss, the likely departure of Manuel Pellegrini and all the financial issues seem to have finally caught up with this team. If they can't get back on track, a successful appeal of the UEFA financial fair play ban may not even matter. Getafe are safely in 9th and probably won't challenge for a European spot but you never know what could happen.
Real Valladolid vs. Sevilla
(19:00 CET, 1:00 p.m. ET)
Well this game features two teams who aren't getting relegated and are not challenging for Europe. Sorry guys, next please.
Real Sociedad vs. Valencia
(21:00 CET, 3:00 p.m. ET)
After the El Derbi madrileño, this is the other big game of the week in Spain. In some ways it's really bigger both Madrid teams are in the Champions League next season. Real are looking to recover from last week's disappointing draw against Osasuna and reopen a five point lead in fourth place. Valencia are rolling and haven't lost in their last five games. A win for Los Che would move them into fourth place by a single point. This game will be high drama and easily the must watch match for me.
Monday, April 29th
Real Betis vs. Deportivo La Coruña
(22:00 CET, 4:00 p.m. ET)
Another interesting match closes the week as Real Betis hosts Depor with both teams needing points for their causes. Betis could pass Malaga in the table if the Anchovies lose again and Betis can get the full three points. Depor have been on fire of late moving from last place to 16th in the last couple weeks. Their safety is still not guaranteed though as there are a couple scenarios for Depor falling back into the bottom three if they fail to get any points.