LaLiga Matchday 37: Real face Sevilla as Madrid rivals battle for second
Real Madrid take on Europa League finalists Sevilla on Saturday as they bid to secure second place in LaLiga.
Atletico Madrid are just a point behind Los Blancos but face tough opponents in fourth-placed Real Sociedad, while champions Barcelona host inconsistent Mallorca.
At the other end of the table, relegation-threatened pair Almeria and Real Valladolid meet in Andalusia with only two points separating the latter in 18th from 13th-placed Valencia.
Los Che are in action against second-bottom Espanyol, who are three points from safety and running out of opportunities to escape the drop zone.
Game of the week: Sevilla vs Real Madrid (Saturday, 6pm)
Following a disappointing start to the campaign, Sevilla have rallied to climb within a point of the top seven — as well as reaching the Europa League final, where they will face Roma.
Their next domestic opponents are the mighty Real, who will be keen to avoid the ignominy of finishing below local rivals Atleti in a campaign that has seen Barcelona claim the title with relative ease.
Los Blancos remain the division's top scorers ahead of Matchday 37, netting 72 times in just 36 games despite not boasting the competition's leading scorer at this stage.
Instead, Carlo Ancelotti's side have spread the goals around. They are the only team with five players to have struck at least seven times in the competition — Karim Benzema (18), Vinicius Junior (10), Marco Asensio (nine), Rodrygo (seven) and Federico Valverde (seven).
Barcelona vs Mallorca (Sunday, 6pm)
Barcelona have lost both their LaLiga outings since wrapping up the title at Espanyol, so head coach Xavi will be keen for an improved performance against Mallorca this weekend.
Los Piratas surprisingly find themselves with an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa Conference League, sitting three points off seventh-placed Osasuna.
Despite the Blaugrana's poor recent form, their defensive record remains remarkable with just 18 goals conceded in 36 league outings — an average of just 0.5 per game. No other side in the division has conceded fewer than 30 at this stage of the season.
The Catalan giants pair that defence with the competition's most prolific striker in Robert Lewandowski. He is five goals clear at the top of the standings with 23, making him the clear favourite to win the Pichichi Trophy.
Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad (Sunday, 6pm)
Fourth-placed Sociedad could yet leapfrog Atleti into third — but they must win this encounter to have any chance of closing the five-point gap between the two.
Los Rojiblancos have been led in attack by their talismanic forward Antoine Griezmann, whose total of 27 direct goal contributions (14 goals, 13 assists) is the second-highest in the division.
The Frenchman's seven match-winning goals is also the joint-second most in Spain's top tier, representing half of his total haul.
La Real will look to top scorer Alexander Sorloth to help them earn a result in the capital.
A remarkable seven of his 11 LaLiga strikes have come away from home — he is one of just three players in the competition to hit double figures while scoring more often on the road.
Almeria vs Real Valladolid (Sunday, 6pm)
Almeria and Valladolid go into Sunday's clash desperate for points as they look to finish above the drop zone.
The pair are two of seven teams still threatened by relegation with two games to play, so defeat for either could prove decisive.
It is Almeria's shortcomings at the back that have put their LaLiga status in jeopardy. Outside of the bottom three, no side has conceded more times than their 62.
Valladolid do boast a similarly poor defensive record (63 goals conceded), though — and despite recording a passable total of 11 wins in 36 games, their 20 defeats is the second-most in the league ahead of only bottom side Elche (23).
Valencia vs Espanyol (Sunday, 6pm)
Of all the teams at risk of going down, Valencia are best-placed to dodge the drop — sitting 13th and two points clear of the bottom three.
But the opposite holds true for their opponents this weekend. Espanyol are three points from safety and appear the most likely to find themselves in the Segunda Division next term.
The Barcelona outfit have, surprisingly, enjoyed a relatively free-scoring campaign. In fact, outside the top five, only Girona have registered more goals than their 47. However, only Elche have conceded more than their 64 goals against.
Los Che, meanwhile, boast the second-best defensive record in the bottom half of the table (42 goals conceded) and will hope they can secure their top-flight status with victory and favourable results elsewhere.
The weekend's other games
Athletic Bilbao vs Elche (Sunday, 6pm)
Cadiz vs Celta Vigo (Sunday, 6pm)
Getafe vs Osasuna (Sunday, 6pm)
Girona vs Real Betis (Sunday, 6pm)
Rayo Vallecano vs Villarreal (Sunday, 6pm)
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