Sevilla – Real Sociedad (and all of Week 37) Preview

LIVEBLOG starting at 2:45 Eastern

So we come to the second-to-last week, a time in La Liga that these days means the top positions are already wrapped up and only the lower places on the table are at stake. That’s right, it’s time for “the rest” of La Liga to get press coverage! The slate of games (all of which are played simultaneously, on Sunday at 3pm EST), are listed below with some short notes on what’s at stake for each team (bolded teams have something to play for): (1) Barca v (16) Depor: Barca jogs off their hangover while resting players for CL final, Depor only 3 points clear of drop zone and desperately needs a win (but cannot ensure safety with win if Zaragoza also wins due to head-to-head results). (3) Valencia v (12) Levante: This is a derby, so the fact that Valencia is guaranteed their place on the table may not matter; Levante at 5 points clear of relegation could ensure another season in La Liga with a win–they’ll play Zaragoza in a final week matchup that will be very interesting if Zaragoza wins and Levante loses or draws this game against Valencia. (5) Bilbao v (10) Malaga: Malaga safe from relegation and cannot qualify for EL, Bilbao fighting for EL places. (6) Sevilla v (13) Real Sociedad: Sociedad can guarantee safety from relegation with a win (currently 5 points clear) but not a draw (unless Zaragoza loses) because Sociedad and Zaragoza split their head-to-head exactly. Sevilla fighting for EL places. (7) Atletico v (19) Hercules: Hercules guaranteed relegation, Atletico fighting for EL places. (18) Zaragoza v (8) Espanyol: Zaragoza is in the drop zone but can avoid the drop–they need points BADLY, Espanyol in the race for EL places and only 3 points out. (15) Gijon v (9) Santander: Gijon can guarantee safety from relegation with a win (4 points clear of drop), Santander safe from relegation and can technically can qualify for EL but needs the kind of  miraculous collapse from Atletico and Espanyol that only Atletico can provide. (20) Almería v (11) Mallorca: Almería guaranteed relegation, Mallorca 5 points clear of drop zone and can guarantee safety with win or draw (on away goals in head-to-head with Zaragoza). (14) Osasuna v (17) Getafe: Osasuna is 5 points clear of drop and can ensure another year in La Liga with a win or draw (regardless of Zaragoza result), Burger King (or whatever their name is) are one point clear of relegation and obviously need every point they can get their hands on or buy with new oil money. I’m putting the over/under on broken ankles suffered in this game of desperate teams at 2. The would-be marquee match-up between RM and Villarreal is sort of wasted because it’s the only game in the whole weekend where neither team has anything at stake. If you love relegation drama, you kind of have to hope Zaragoza beats Espanyol because that result leaves open the possibility of a lot of teams going down on the last day. Incidentally, that same result would be great for Sevilla fans, as it would mean a win or draw for Sevilla this week would guarantee at least 7th place for us when we head to Espanyol’s stadium next week (and would ensure that Espanyol isn’t playing for anything). As it stands, though, we desperately need these points. Bilbao and Atletico are playing teams assured of their fate who may or may not put up much resistance (favors from the rest of the league are so mid-week, anyway. And we squandered them). We have to face Espanyol next week. And to top it off, we’ll be fighting with a squad that is somewhere below 50% strength. In addition to the definitely injured pile (Navas, Rakitic, Navarro, Caceres, Alexis, and Guarente) we have the disciplinary suspension group (Medel for his red card, DZ for accumulation of yellows), and the possibly injured due to muscle strains list (Fazio, Sergio Sánchez, Perotti, Negredo). That’s right, we could go into one of the biggest games of our season this weekend missing as many as 12 first-teamers, including 4 of our top 5 scorers this season (Negredo, LuFa, Rakitic, Perotti). If you like these contingencies and theoretical results things, dive in and comment! Who will be the third team to go down? Any predictions for this weekend? If that sort of thing’s not your bag, though, let’s make this simple: WIN, SEVILLA!!!!