Arguably no other situation in football can cause a stomach to take on the incredible depths that are inspired by relegation. The prospect of losing a place in the division, especially if it happens suddenly, digs a pit within a fan.
Mix into the cocktail three simultaneous matches and the angst of it being the final day of the season, it’s a drama which is in equal measures gripping and cruel. That’s the precipice upon which Granada, Cadiz and Real Mallorca tip toe on Jornada 38.
Just a single point separates the three and each side will feel an obligation to win. Cadiz have the tricky prospect of managing their own euphoria at whatever happens in their game with keeping a nervous eye on results elsewhere.
Behind on head-to-head with Mallorca, the Yellow Submarine from the deeps of the South know they must better Mallorca’s result in their match against Alaves to stay up.
The islanders travel to Navarra and have arguably the trickiest of tie of all three away to Osasuna. Granada both the simplest in terms of results and tasks: a win against a wayward Espanyol means safety.
The only gladiator at home, tickets to Nuevo de los Carmenes sold out within hours of their sale. Covered by just one roof over the main stand, the people of Granada will exercise their own social experiment in an attempt to cause the sensation of claustrophobia within the Espanyol players in a large, open space.
Both the travelling teams are doing their utmost to unbalance the scales, with numerous buses crawling up the Iberian peninsula towards Vitoria-Gasteiz. The worst team in the division with nothing to play for, Alaves are almost the perfect opponents – but have won their last three at home.
Only two teams are worse than Mallorca on the road – thus the club have done what they can to make themselves as at home and possible. Los Bermellones are flying fans in and out on the day, with the transport and ticket to Pamplona costing just €50 for their support.
Gladiatorial best fits the narrative. The majority of football’s great occasions involve glory – something on offer within the Coliseum in Rome. Yet the reason the crowds flocked to see it was the jeopardy involved. The thin line between survival and in this case, that sinking feeling. The relegation rumble is set to be tense, exhausting, cruel and full of despair for thousands of people. But thrilling.