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The La Liga relegation race: Part One--Teams

Villarreal cannot affect this in the slightest, so let's just sit back and look at the remaining fixtures for the clubs trying to stay up.

They won't get relegated themselves, but Levante will have a lot to say about who does
They won't get relegated themselves, but Levante will have a lot to say about who does
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Here is a look at the teams in relegation danger with five matches to go, and their recent form:

Malaga 38 (points from last 5 matches: 9)

Celta, Granada, Rayo 37 (from last 5 matches: 4, 6 and 8 respectively)

Elche 35 (5)

Osasuna 34 (5)

Valladolid 32 (6)

Getafe 31 (3)

Almeria 30 (4)

Betis 22 (3)

38 or 39 points should be enough to stay up unless Almeria and Getafe can get their act together, so at least right now, I'm going to assume the clubs already on 37 and 38 points will be OK. Here's a closer look at the others:

Real Betis are done--with only 5 wins all season, they'd need 5 from their last 5 to have a mathematical chance to stay up. Still, their remaining matches are very important, because they face Rayo (currently 14th), Real Sociedad (7), Almeria (19), Valladolid (17) and Osasuna (16), in that order. Will they care, or not?

Getafe face Levante this Saturday in a must-win game. An interesting tidbit--since October 30, the ONLY teams they have beaten this season in La Liga have been Valencian Community clubs (Villarreal in El Madrigal, Levante at Getafe, and Valencia in the Mestalla).

After that, they face Malaga (H), Barca at the Nou Camp, Sevilla (H) and Rayo (A). A tough run-in unless their last two opponents have nothing to play for. It's hard to see them getting to 37 or 38 points unless they win at Levante this weekend.

Almeria play Celta on Sunday morning. Probably the Vigo side are safe anyway, but three points from this one would seal the deal for them. As for Almeria, their remaining schedule is Espanyol (A), Betis (H), Granada (A), and Athletic Club (H). The first two have nothing to play for, so who knows, maybe the southerners can find a way to stay up. But they had better win the match on Sunday first.

Real Valladolid have been a mystifying club this season. They've gritted out 1-0 home wins against Villarreal, Barcelona and Almeria in 2014, but haven't been able to put together good matches back-to-back to move away from danger. Goals are proving hard to come by--it's been 10 matches since they scored more than one in a match.

A schedule quirk gives them a weekend off--they return to action April 28 away to Celta, then it's Espanyol (H), Real Madrid (H), Betis (A), Granada (H). Not a bad group to have to face, really, but can JIM conjure up 6 or 7 points from these matches?

Osasuna have been essentially god-awful all season, but have managed to pull out a big win here and there to stay above the bottom three. Osasuna-Valencia on Saturday could be just such a match--if the Pamplona side can pick up three points here, then they can probably find a way to stay up. Regardless, Real Madrid (A), Celta (H), Espanyol (A), Betis (H) is not a terrible run-in, since the last two should have absolutely nothing to play for.

Elche have been huffing and puffing all season too, but their big problem is their remaining schedule, easily the toughest of the stragglers. Atletico (A), Levante (H), Malaga (A), Barcelona (H), Sevilla (A) looks rather imposing. Their big match will be that second one--if they can beat Levante and to 38 points there, I suspect they will be okay. If not, they'd better hope the clubs below them don't get hot.

Conclusions: Levante's next two matches are pivotal. Betis are down for sure, but the granotes can play a big role in determining whether Getafe or Elche join them. Almeria need to win this weekend, too, or else their path to salvation is going to be very difficult.

Although it's tempting to find similarities between Valladolid's season and ours in 2011-12 (continually drawing when wins were needed) there's not a Zaragoza below them suddenly pulling out wins. I think they will survive; same for Osasuna.