Title up for grabs

  • Last Updated: May 16 2014, 14:00 BST

A look ahead to the final weekend of the season in the Spanish Primera Division.

Atletico Madrid or Barcelona will win the title
Atletico Madrid or Barcelona will win the title

One of the most exciting title races in La Liga history will come down to one match on the final day of the season.

Atletico Madrid top the table by three points but must travel to second place Barcelona, who will snatch the crown away on head-to-head record if they win on a ground where they have dropped only five points all season.

Both teams have stumbled as the finishing line approaches, but Atletico are determined not to let all their hard work go to waste as they chase a league and European double, and are drawing strength from their Champions League semi-final win over Barca.

"We have always kept the same identity," said coach Diego Simeone. "I do not think this will change for the last game.

"Personality will be important. To have arrived at this point we have put in a lot of work and effort.

"It has not been easy but we are here on merit."

The capital club will have Diego Costa back in contention, the top scorer having missed last weekend's 1-1 draw against Malaga at the Vicente Calderon due to a hamstring strain.

Barcelona gave a lift to players and fans alike on the eve of the match by announcing an agreement with Lionel Messi over a new contract.

"It is a very personal matter and it should give peace to him and especially to the club, who can continue to count on the best player in the world," said coach Gerardo Martino, who could be taking charge of Barca for the final time.

The speculation around him will only increase after the favourite to replace him, Luis Enrique, confirmed his departure from Celta Vigo on Friday afternoon, while insisting he has nothing in place for next season.

"I want to pay a special tribute to the players, the best group of people I've had as a coach," said the 44-year-old ahead of their match at Valencia.

"I've been very fond of Vigo. They've treated me well here but there are other things I must consider. Living away from my family has been hard."

Enrique's side knocked Real Madrid out of the title race last week, but Madrid could still finish second if Atletico beat Barca and Madrid top Espanyol, though their season finale at the Bernabeu is almost an afterthought with the Champions League final to come a week later.

"We are just thinking about beating Atletico," said midfielder Luka Modric. "We are focused on the game and then we'll see how we celebrate it."

Espanyol will also go into that match with a coach bidding farewell after Javier Aguirre announced his impending departure.

If the title race has been close this season, the relegation scrap has been even more intense with five clubs still in the fight to avoid joining Real Betis in the Segunda Division.

Real Valladolid and Osasuna will start Sunday in the bottom three, but any of Granada, Almeria and Getafe could be in it instead by the end of the day with three points separating 15th from 19th.

Position Player Score
1 A Madrid 89
2 Barcelona 86
3 R Madrid 84
4 Ath Bilbao 69
5 Sevilla 60

Real Valladolid and Granada will go head-to-head in a match which opens up a series of scenarios. A win for Granada will save them and relegate Valladolid, a draw will relegate Valladolid but leaving Granada sweating, while a Valladolid victory will leave both teams waiting on results elsewhere.

"The main thing is to go for victory," said Granada's Fran Rico. "We cannot speculate on the draw."

Osasuna take on rock-bottom Real Betis at home, although depending on results elsewhere a victory might not be enough to save them.

Getafe and Almeria, who start the weekend three points clear of the bottom three, can save themselves with a point from fixtures against Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Bilbao respectively.

"The team are ready," said Getafe winger Pedro Leon. "We depend only on ourselves, although we know it will be very difficult. We all know what is at stake."

With so much happening at the top and the bottom of the table, the good news for the number crunchers is that everything else has been resolved in terms of European qualification, with the top three set and Bilbao certain of the Champions League qualifiers from fourth.

Sevilla must beat Elche to be sure of fifth, but they already know they are in the Europa League alongside Real Sociedad and Villarreal, who finish the campaign by facing each other in San Sebastian.

The players of Malaga and Levante can be the first to hit the beach after they wrap up their campaigns with a match in Palma on Friday night, while Valencia host Celta Vigo on Sunday to bring the curtain down.