BARCELONA (AP) — After an anticlimactic conclusion to the Barcelona title game, the smaller teams in the Spanish league are facing more drama in the closing days of the battle.
Seven teams — Espanyol, Valladolid, Gades, Getafe, Almeria, Celta Vigo and Valencia — are fighting to join Elche in the second division. Espanyol and Valladolid go into the relegation zone with two games to play.
The duels of the penultimate day will be played at the same time on Sunday with the exception of Real Madrid’s duel against Spain on Saturday.
Espanyol will visit the main duel against Valencia. The team from Barcelona is penultimate and has three points less than Valladolid, Gades and Getafe. If Espanyol loses in Valencia and draws the other three, the team is automatically relegated.
But Espanyol played better at the end of the campaign and went on to win 2-1 against Rayo Vallecano and erased a three-goal deficit to draw 33-all with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions, we were convinced that we would save ourselves,” said Espanyol coach Luis García after the somersault against Atlético. “We saw the team alive.”
A section of the Mestalla Stadium will be closed after a sanction imposed by the Federation for racist insults against Real Madrid striker Vinicius Júnior.
“Sunday’s game is our last,” Valencia coach Rubén Barajas said after losing 1-0 to Mallorca on Thursday.
Valladolid is placed 18th and faces a key duel against Almeria, which has one point in 15th place.
Valladolid is in good shape after beating champions Barcelona 3-1 on Tuesday, which is no longer in doubt.
Gades (17) receives Celta, (14) in another team fighting a duel not to be relegated. Celtic have two points more than Gades and have been in a tailspin after winning just one of 10 games.
Getafe (16) hosts Osasuna without leading scorer Enes Unal, who injured his leg 1-0 against Real Betis on Wednesday.
At the top of the standings, Real Sociedad can confirm fourth place and the last ticket to the Champions League with Atlético, which is third.