What’s on the line on the final matchday of the 2021/22 La Liga season?

Villarreal CF and Athletic Club are vying for the final ticket to Europe, while there is one relegation spot still to be decided and three teams sweating to avoid going down.

The final week of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season is here and there is still a lot to be decided in Matchday 38, as we still don’t know who’ll claim the final European qualification spot or which club will join already-relegated Deportivo Alavés and Levante UD in dropping down to LaLiga SmartBank.

These two battles will reach their conclusion on Sunday night. Cádiz CF, RCD Mallorca and Granada CF are the three clubs who could still be relegated and they’ll play their respective fixtures at 20:00 CEST on Sunday. Then, at 22:00 CEST, Villarreal CF and Athletic Club will both be on the road as they aim to finish seventh and qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League. 

There are individual trophies still to be awarded as well, so here comes a look at everything that is up for grabs on Matchday 38 of this thrilling season.

The relegation battle: Which one of Cádiz CF, RCD Mallorca or Granada CF will go down?

Deportivo Alavés and Levante UD are already relegated and certain to make up the bottom two, but the struggle to avoid finishing 18th is still very much alive. It could hardly be tighter as Cádiz CF currently round out the drop zone, but they are level on 36 points with 17th-placed RCD Mallorca and just one behind the 37 points of 16th-placed Granada CF.

On Matchday 38, supporters of these clubs will be following the latest developments in all three of the fixtures: Granada CF vs RCD Espanyol, CA Osasuna vs RCD Mallorca and Deportivo Alavés vs Cádiz CF. 

Anything could happen, including the need for head-to-head tiebreakers. If two or more clubs finish level on points in Spain’s top division, their head-to-head records are the first criteria used to split them. It’s important to know, therefore, that RCD Mallorca hold that tiebreaker over Cádiz CF, Granada CF hold the one over RCD Mallorca and it’s level between Cádiz CF and Granada CF, so overall goal difference would be decisive in that case. If all three teams finish on 37 points, which could happen, it’d be Cádiz CF who’d suffer relegation.

The final European spot: Either Villarreal CF or Athletic Club will be Spain’s first Conference League representative

In terms of qualification for next year’s UEFA competitions, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid and Sevilla FC have sealed the four Champions League spots, while Real Betis and Real Sociedad will be taking part in the Europa League. But, seventh place and a Conference League berth is still up for grabs. 

Villarreal CF currently occupy that spot with 56 points, but Athletic Club are just behind on 55 points. On Sunday night, this race towards Europe will be decided, with FC Barcelona vs Villarreal CF and Sevilla FC vs Athletic Club taking place at the same time. 

In this case, should the Basques draw and the Yellow Submarine lose, it’d be Athletic Club finishing seventh courtesy of the tiebreaker. Given that no Spanish team took part in the inaugural season of the Conference League, that would bestow them the honour of being LaLiga Santander’s first ever representative in this new continental competition.

The individual trophies: Benzema, Aspas and Bono lead the way

It’s not just clubs that have a lot on the line in Matchday 38, as some of the individual trophies are still to be won. Karim Benzema is set to win his first Pichichi Award, for the competition’s top scorer, with his 27 goals well ahead of second-placed Iago Aspas’ 18 strikes. But, the RC Celta striker still has something to play for as he could win the Zarra Trophy for the top Spanish scorer, currently leading RCD Espanyol’s Raúl de Tomás and Real Betis’ Juanmi, who are on 17 and 16 goals respectively. 

Then, there’s the Zamora Trophy for the goalkeeper with the best goals-conceded-per-game ratio. Bono can become the first ever Sevilla FC player to win this prize, having conceded 0.77 goals per game, but Thibaut Courtois is close behind on 0.83. If Bono concedes two more in Sevilla FC vs Athletic Club than Courtois does in Real Madrid vs Real Betis, the prize would go to the Belgian.

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