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Relegation battle, European places to be decided on last day of Spanish league


BARCELONA, Spain — While the title fight is over, there is still plenty to play for on the final day of the Spanish league season Saturday, when 11 teams play for either for berths in European competition or to avoid relegation.

All told, the results of eight of the 10 matches can have implications on where teams play next season.

Six days after Barcelona clinched its 23rd league crown at dethroned champion Atletico Madrid, Luis Enrique's side will host a Deportivo La Coruna in danger of the drop.

The match will serve as Barcelona's last warmup before it bids for a treble of titles against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 30 and Juventus in the final of the Champions League on June 6.

Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona's record holder with 23 titles and 764 appearances, will make his 505th and last league appearance after announcing on Thursday he will leave the club for Qatar this summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo will try to add to his league-leading 45 goals when runner-up Real Madrid hosts Getafe with speculation growing that coach Carlo Ancelotti's job is in question with the powerhouse about to finish the campaign without a major trophy.

Here are some things to know about the 38th and final round of the Spanish league:


Atletico still needs to lock up third place and direct qualification for the Champions League.

Atletico visits a Granada side which, like Deportivo, is currently out of the relegation zone but not clear from danger.

Valencia and Sevilla are fighting for the fourth and final Champions League berth, which entails a place in qualifying for the group phase.

Valencia holds a one-point advantage over fifth-place Sevilla, which could also earn a place in the Champions League by successfully defending its Europa League title against Ukraine's Dnipro.

Valencia visits Almeria, while Sevilla plays at Malaga.

Valencia can even finish third with a win if Atletico loses.

PHOTO: Barcelona's players celebrate their championship after a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Barcelona's players celebrate their championship after a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

"Not reaching one's goals is called failure, and our goal is the Champions League," said Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves.


Seventh place will earn a Europa League berth this season if Barcelona wins the Copa del Rey because the Catalan club is set to play in the Champions League.

Bilbao can guarantee it will join Villarreal and the fifth-place finisher in next season's Europa League with a win over Villarreal.

But a slip by the Basques would open the door for Malaga, Espanyol and Rayo Vallecano to all have a shot at the third Europa League spot.

Espanyol visits Celta Vigo, while Rayo hosts Real Sociedad.


With Cordoba already relegated to play in the second division next season, four teams are fighting to avoid becoming the other two sides to go down.

Granada and Deportivo control their own fate and can stay up with wins.

Eibar and Almeria are currently in the relegation zone, so they need wins and for Granada and Deportivo to lose.

Eibar, which had risen as far as eighth place, hosts Cordoba on a seven-game winless streak.

"Barcelona is playing well and Atletico is aiming for third place, if things go as they normally do we have a good chance to stay up," Eibar goalkeeper Xabi Irureta said.

Almeria may be done for regardless.

Almeria is waiting for a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on a FIFA-imposed penalty of three points for the late payment to Danish club Aalborg for the transfer of defender Michael Jakobsen in 2012.

On Wednesday Almeria said the CAS decision will come next week, "by Tuesday at the earliest."

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