Madrid, Spain – Villarreal's mission heading into its final match of the season is simple: win to remain in La Liga for at least another year.
The club sits fifth from bottom in Spain's top flight, just one point clear of the relegation zone. A win against Atletico Madrid at El Madrigal on Sunday would ensure safety for Miguel Angel Lotina's side.
"This week has been the longest week of the year and we are looking forward to the match on Sunday," said Villarreal midfielder Marcos Senna. "I can see that the team is highly motivated and in high spirits. There is no doubt that at club level it's the biggest game of my career, an important game for everyone considering what is at stake."
It is also important for Atletico as the club can potentially lock down a spot in next season's Champions League. Atletico sits fifth in the La Liga table, two points shy Malaga for the final qualification position. If Malaga fails to take three points against Sporting Gijon on Sunday, a win for the Rojiblancos would see them clinch a fourth-place finish.
That may be a tall order for Atletico, which is coming off a midweek Europa League triumph against Athletic Bilbao. The hangover from that impressive 3-0 victory in the title match could slow Diego Simeone's men down a bit.
Looking to avoid relegation along with Villarreal is Rayo Vallecano, the least in-form club in La Liga at the moment. Rayo's six straight league losses have left the club in a safe position but only by a razor-thin margin, avoiding the drop zone only by goal differential. The club will look to reverse its fortunes Sunday against Granada.
Should Rayo Vallecano lose, Real Zaragoza will have a strong chance of remaining in La Liga next season. Zaragoza would then need just one point against Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez to ensure safety.
Elsewhere in La Liga action Sunday, Espanyol hosts Sevilla, Levante squares off against Athletic Bilbao, Racing welcomes Osasuna to the Estadio El Sardinero and title-winners Real Madrid conclude the season at the Bernabeu against Mallorca.
Saturday will not only see Pep Guardiola manage his final league match at Barcelona when the Catalans head to the Benito Villamarin to face Real Betis, but it will serve as a prelude the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 24 as well. Valencia and Real Sociedad will meet at the Anoeta to wrap up Saturday's final league action of the season.