Mallorca scored a late winner to improve their odds of safety. / EFE

Final day fixture chaos

With a lot left to play for on the last day of the season, including a European spot and a relegation battle, following match times has been a task

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

Only the executives at La Liga headquarters can explain the logic of who plays when and why on the final weekend of the Spanish season.

I've received calls from television producers in Africa and America this week asking me to make sense of the kick-off times on the last matchday.

Ironically, my answer is the same: "It's probably for you – the foreign TV markets." The plan was for the games to kick off simultaneously on Sunday. Now, they are spread over three days and five different kick-off times. The two Friday night fixtures, one Saturday game and a Sunday offering of Elche versus Getafe have nothing hanging on them.

The late games on Sunday feature the big teams, but only the 3rd / 4th place needs to be decided along with the matter of who represents Spain in the Conference League.

Real Betis have missed out on a Champions League place, but will have the consolation of a spot in the Europa League.

Cross-town rivals Sevilla are in the major European competition for the third year in a row. Yet there are still stories circulating that coach Julen Lopitegui may leave in the summer. His busy agent could be the reason the club may not be completely content. Their football also became stale with just four wins in the last 17 games.

At the top end of the table, the only real question to be answered is "who finishes 7th?" to claim the Conference League spot. Villarreal have a one-point advantage over Athletic Bilbao. Villarreal play Barca and have to better Athletic's result against Sevilla.

All the drama is at the bottom end of the table. Levante and Alaves have already dropped.

Mallorca looked favourites to join them until a 92nd-minute winner against Rayo Vallecano.

Cadiz were delighted to tie with champions Real Madrid, but discovered they'd fallen into the relegation zone as a result of the Mallorca result.

The other club that is in danger is Granada; Aitor Karanka has overseen a major improvement since taking over in April. Yet a loss to Real Betis leaves them with an uncertain future.

The equation can be simple or complicated. It's easy if Granada beat Espanyol as that ensures they stay up. Otherwise, it becomes complicated: Cadiz go to already-relegated Alavés, while Mallorca are at Osasuna. Cadiz and Mallorca have 36 points and Granada have 37.

If they all finish on 37 points then a mini-league kicks in and only those with a doctorate in mathematics will understand the possible outcome.