La Liga: Mallorca play Valencia, Osasuna entertain Bilbao (preview)

May 24, 2023

Madrid, May 24 (IANS) The final two matches in the 36th round of games in La Liga will be played on Thursday night, with Mallorca at home to Valencia and Osasuna entertaining Athletic Bilbao.

Mallorca are safe from relegation on 44 points, but need to recover from a 3-0 thrashing to Almeria last weekend, while Valencia still have some work to do to ensure their top-flight survival.

A 1-0 win at home to Real Madrid which was overshadowed by racist insults aimed at Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr gave Valencia 40 points, but if Espanyol and Getafe both win their matches on Wednesday, they would be only two points from the bottom three and with work still to do to survive, a Xinhua report said.

Coach Ruben Baraja has benefited from giving a chance to youngsters Javi Guerra and Diego Lopez, with Lopez scoring the winner against Madrid, and they do have the advantage of knowing the results of their rivals in the battle to avoid relegation 24 hours before their match kicks off.

Thursday’s second game is a repeat of the Copa del Rey semi-final between Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao which Osasuna won 1-0 in their El Sadar Stadium, before a 1-1 draw in Bilbao booked them a final place against Real Madrid.

Athletic are seventh in La Liga and a win would keep them in pole position for a place in next season’s UEFA Conference League, while another victory for Osasuna would put them above their rivals on head-to-head goal difference.

The visitors have problems in defense and midfield, with Inigo Martinez, Yeray Alvarez, Dani Garcia and Ander Herrera all likely to miss the rest of the season, with Mikel Vesga and either Oier Zarraga or Unai Vencedor likely to play in midfield.

–IANS

ak/

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