Monday, January 16, 2017

La Liga Preview: Eibar, Almeria hoping for final-day salvation

SoccerNews in La Liga 22 May 2015

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Eibar will look to keep their fairytale journey in La Liga going on Saturday when they host Cordoba needing to win and hope other results go their way to survive.

The Basque minnows earned promotion to the top flight last season for the first time in their history, and started the campaign well before tailing away.

Such has been the change in their fortunes they have fallen from eighth to 18th going into the final round, but they can still survive.

Victory over already relegated Cordoba and defeats for Deportivo L a Coruna or Granada would be enough for Gaizka Garitano’s side, but the head coach only wants his players to focus on success in their match.

“We have to win anyway and see if other results go our way,” he said.

“We have to forget the other games and head into ours knowing we will only stay in the first division if we win.

“We must be brave and give our best. If it goes well, it will be remembered for many years.

“When we have been in tough situations before we have done well, so I am optimistic.”

Eibar are one of four sides fighting to avoid relegation on the final day, with Almeria the other side occupying a place in the drop zone ahead of kick-off.

They face a much tougher challenge though as Valencia – who are chasing a place in Europe – travel to the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos, Almeria also needing a win to have a hope of survival.

Deportivo and Granada have a two-point cushion on the bottom three but both could face anxious waits given they face Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively.

While Barca have little to play for having already secured the title, they will be keen to finish on a high as they lift the trophy and say goodbye to their inspirational captain Xavi.

Real Madrid – like Barca – have already secured a top three place leaving little on the line when they host city neighbours Getafe but Atletico know they need a point against Granada to secure third.

UEFA Europa League finalists Sevilla will hope to oust Valencia from the fourth – and final – Champions League spot with victory over Malaga, although they have not won in their past three trips to La Rosaleda.

Sixth-placed Villarreal – who are guaranteed a Europa League place – host Athletic Bilbao with the visitors looking to maintain their seven-match unbeaten streak ahead of the Copa del Rey final.

Meanwhile, Levante entertain Elche, Espanyol travel to Celta Vigo and Rayo Vallecano host Real Sociedad a day after coach Paco Jemez signed a new one-year contract.

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