La Liga 2013, Week 36 preview and fixtures: The battles for fourth and against relegation continues

David Ramos

There are three weeks left in the La Liga season and while the title race is over, fourth place, a Europa League spot and all three relegation places are still up for grabs.

We're doing things a little differently this week with the La Liga preview. With the season winding down, the number of games that still have an impact on the table -- beyond just final positioning -- is dropping so instead of just laying out the schedule, I'm going to tell you what games deserve your attention, using a clever correlation between Metallica song titles and the games.



The battle for fourth place is between Real Sociedad and Valencia with Real currently ahead only on goal differential. Sociedad has slipped up two weeks in a row with loss to Getafe and a draw against Granada. That has allowed Valencia to close down the five point lead Real had built up, setting up a three week showdown for the final Champions League spot.

Sevilla vs. Real Sociedad

(Saturday, May 18th - 22:00 CET, 4:00 p.m. ET)

This should be a fantastic game. Both Sevilla and Real need wins as they are chasing European spots. Real need points to stay ahead of Valencia while Sevilla are trying to catch up with Betis and prevent them from claiming the final Europa League spot. Xabi Prieto (calf) and Mikel (suspended) will both miss the match for Real while Sevilla's José Antonio Reyes still hasn't recovered from an ankle injury picked up last month. Fun fact, only four teams have won more home games than Sevilla this season.

Getafe vs. Valencia

(Saturday, May 18th - 18:00 CET, 12:00 p.m. ET)

Valencia pulled even with Real last week and could pass them depending on how their match goes later in the day on Saturday. Los Che haven't been all that great on the road this season but they did win away last week against Rayo. Sergio Canales remains sidelined for Valencia with a hamstring strain.

For Whom the Bells Tolls

If you take a second to ponder, this category of games should be really easy to identify. None of the three relegation spots in La Liga have been claimed outright, though we're getting close for a couple teams. Here's all the games that matter in the inglorious game of musical chairs going on at the bottom of the table.

Granada vs. Osasuna

(Saturday, May 18th - 20:00 CET, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Easily the biggest relegation battle of the week as 15th placed Osasuna travel to face 16th placed Granada. A victory for either side could guarantee safety if other results break the right way. On the bright side for both clubs a loss cannot sink them into the relegation zone but either could find themselves within a point of relegation after weekend.

Mallorca vs. Real Betis

(Monday, May 20th - 22:00 CET, 4:00 p.m. ET)

Mallorca are bottom of the league with three weeks left, five points away from safety. Anything other than a win just won't do and should Mallorca lose, there's a good chance they could be officially relegated if some other results go against them. Real Betis have something to play for as they look to keep control of a Europa League spot for next season. A Betis win, combined with a losses by Getafe and Sevilla would clinch a European spot for them.

Deportivo La Coruña vs. Espanyol

(Sunday, May 19th - 17:00 CET, 11:00 a.m. ET)

Deportivo La Coruña's magical run to get them off the bottom of the table has begun to slow down, leading to their return to the drop zone after last week's loss against Valladolid. Depor sit two points from safety and need points badly to avoid falling a further behind Zaragoza. Espanyol are safe and out of the European race, so all that's left for them to play for is getting into the top ten.

Real Zaragoza vs. Athletic Bilbao

(Sunday, May 19th - 19:00 CET, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Zaragoza's scoreless draw against Levante last week was still good enough to keep them in 17th and two points ahead of Depor. This week's match against Athletic should provide a bigger challenge with the Basque outfit still needing a point or two to mathematically secure their place in La Liga next season.

Celta Vigo are involved in the relegation battle but their match for this week against Atletico Madrid was already played on May 8th -- Atletico won 3-1 -- due to the Copa del Rey final.

Nothing Else Matters

Levante vs. Rayo Vallecano

(Sunday, May 19th - 12:00 CET, 6:00 a.m. ET)

Levante can't be relegated and are out of the European fight so their season is effectively done. Rayo still could get into the Europa League but their last two matches have been bad losses -- they were outscored a combined 7-0 -- so there's little reason to believe they're going to suddenly catch fire. If they do, I'll eat crow later.

Barcelona vs. Real Valladolid

{Sunday, May 19th - 21:00 CET, 3:00 p.m. ET)

Barcelona won the title last week, Valladolid are safe and not a factor in the European race. Lionel Messi is out injured. Meh, who cares.

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