The fight for survival is set to intensify in La Liga in the final few months of the season. Just five points are separating La Liga’s bottom five with 13 games remaining. We are set for a fantastic finish in the La Liga relegation battle.
Cadiz, Eibar, Valladolid, Alaves, Elche and Huesca are locked in a tight battle for survival. All six sides are in real danger of losing their place and they need to unlock their survival instincts.
The La Liga Relegation Battle: Five Points Separates the Bottom Six
Cadiz Have Sunk Into the Fight Having Started the Season Well
Despite an excellent start to the season, things have taken a severe turn for the worse for the current Segunda Champions. Since winning five of their first 12 league games, Cadiz have won just one of their last 13 which has seen them sink down the La Liga table. That rotten run includes a current streak of seven without a win.
Alvaro Cevera’s team are under severe pressure to improve their form. Their drop-in form has seen concede a lorry load of goals, which now means they boast La Liga’s worst defence.
There is plenty of experience in this Cadiz side to get out of the trouble. The likes of Alvaro Negredo and Alfonso Espino will be crucial for the remainder of this season. Safety is in their own hands as they start in 15th with 25 points, three clear of the relegation zone.
They face a potentially season-defining run of matches over the next few weeks. First up is a crucial six-pointer with fellow strugglers Eibar. That is followed by another six-pointer against Alaves. Two huge games in the context of their season.
Eibar Continue to Defy Expectations but This Has Been Their Toughest Season
The little side based in the Basque region of Spain have defied the odds each season to survive. Working on a shoestring budget, Jose Mendilibar has performed miracles year after year but this has arguably been their toughest yet.
They are regular strugglers and always find a way out but their form has majorly dipped. Eibar won just three of their first 11 league games and things haven’t improved since. It’s just one in their last 14, which includes a current eight-match winless streak. Despite their rotten form, they sit 16th in the table but are only outside the bottom three on goal difference.
That could be a key factor at the end of the season. Relying on their better defensive record could be the way they go about surviving because their attack is the worst in La Liga. Just 20 goals in their 25 league games simply isn’t good enough. Striker Kike has seven of those and, to his credit, he has been the man for goals because the closest player to him which is Bryan Gil has just three. Kike makes up a third of Eibar’s league goals and he simply needs help.
As noted earlier, Eibar’s next league game is against Cadiz. A huge clash for both teams but Eibar, in particular, need the points with a tricky run of games to come. Following their match with Cadiz, Eibar face Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid back to back.
They know how to survive and Mendilibar will ensure their instincts kick in with time running out. Eibar will certainly fight to an end to maintain their La Liga status.
Valladolid are Hovering Precariously Above the Relegation Zone
The La Liga relegation battle regularly includes Sergio Gonzalez’s Valladolid side. They have beaten the drop in the last two seasons but at this stage, they may not be so lucky a third time.
They are hovering dangerously close to the drop zone with only goal difference keeping them out. Despite being backed by Brazilian legend Ronaldo, the club has continuously battled relegation since their return.
Their status is under threat. Sergio Gonzalez’s side are eight without a win and have won just once in their last 12 league games. Valladolid’s current top scorer is Shon Weissman, who has just three league goals. Amazingly, despite having a top scorer who boasts three goals, they have the best attack out of the six sides battling relegation. It’s only a poultry 23 goals, but it’s the best of the rest.
Efficiency is likely to be Valladolid’s route to success. They face similar sides in the coming weeks who share a similar style. First up is a home game with Getafe and then a trip to Osasuna. Both sides have found improvements in form and will give Valladolid a stern test.
They have beaten relegation for the last two seasons and the club will be determined to do it once again. It’s going to be a scrap and Gonzalez will want his side to show their fighting spirit.
The New Manager Bounce Hasn’t Taken Effect at Alaves
Alaves are on their second manager of the season after sacking Pablo Machin, despite the club being comfortably clear of the drop zone. Machin collected 18 points from 18 league games before he was dismissed.
Alaves turned to Abelardo Fernandez, who did a sterling job with them once before. However, his return has yet to take off collecting just four points from his seven matches.
The statistics get worse for Alaves. They have suffered the most league defeats in La Liga with 13 and boast the worst attack alongside Eibar with just 20 goals.
Their major problem is goal scoring. Former Newcastle United striker Joselu has the most with five while former Arsenal striker Lucas Perez has just four. Those to equate to 45 per cent of Alaves’ goals. They need help from elsewhere and that hasn’t arrived.
Alaves face a very tricky run of matches, starting with in-form Real Betis. Betis are flying having won six of their last eight league games.
They follow that with a huge game against Cadiz. A big game for both in the battle for survival. Their run doesn’t get easier from there with matches against Celta Vigo, Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal and Valencia to follow.
Fran Escriba Stopped the Rot at Elche and Now the Team Are Looking Up
Elche started the season well under Escriba’s predecessor Jorge Almiron, winning three of their first five, but their form severely dipped. They went sixteen games without a win which culminated in Almiron’s resignation and Escriba’s return.
Escriba stopped the rot with an excellent win against Eibar but that has been followed by consecutive defeats to Barcelona and Granada. Escriba will be aware there is still plenty of work to do. They occupy 19th in the table, just a point behind the three sides directly above them.
Crucially, Elche have played a game less than all the sides around them. That could be the key in their season if they take advantage. It’s a tough task against Sevilla but it’s one Escriba knows could be vital to their chances of survival.
However, they are in the midst of a tricky run of fixtures that requires the players to stand up and be counted. Escriba will lean on the likes of Lucas Boye, Antonio Barragan and Victor Rodriguez. They face Sevilla twice in the next 12 days and sandwiched in between that is a game with Real Madrid.
A difficult run for Escriba’s side but one they can see as a free hit. Nothing is expected from them and any points will be a bonus considering how tight the bottom of La Liga is. They remain in trouble, but Escriba’s return has certainly given Elche a chance of surviving.
Huesca Have Momentum Under New Manager Pacheta In a Tight Relegation Battle
Despite sitting bottom of the table, Huesca have the most momentum in the La Liga relegation battle. Since Pacheta took over as manager from Michel, Huesca have taken eight points from his seven matches, having looked dead and buried before his arrival.
Huesca failed to win any of their first 12 league games but remained competitive and hard to beat. They have crucially kept that trait since Pacheta arrived. Only Villarreal have drawn more matches than La Liga’s bottom side this season. Its 11 and counting for Huesca and continuously drawing has kept them in the frame, despite a lack of victories.
Momentum is on their side and that is crucial to getting out of trouble. Their next four league games see them face sides a mixture of sides. They welcome inconsistent Celta Vigo this weekend before entertaining Barcelona, Osasuna and Levante. Four games which could give them a great chance of picking up points and climbing off the bottom.
Huesca have arrived at the season and certainly, their relegation rivals will certainly be concerned. The bottom club are optimistic and with form on their side, they could mount the greatest of escapes.