La Liga’s Relegation Scrap – Who is going down?

Leganes vs Valencia Match Preview & Prediction

It’s shaping up to be one hell of a scrap for survival in La Liga this year with a number of sides at the bottom starting to show signs of life. Only one team in the bottom eight lost on matchday 20 and it’s currently very difficult to predict which three teams will be in the relegation zone come May, particularly with bottom club Espanyol having spent big this month.

Just about everybody from 10th placed Granada down still has plenty of work to do in order to secure their top flight status for the 2020/21 season. Here’s the current state of play just over halfway through the season and a bit of analysis on which clubs are likely to pull clear and which ones are in danger of slipping down into the Segunda Division.


La Liga Relegation Scrap – The Situation after 20 Games


10th – Granada (27 points)

Granada were second favourites for the drop before a ball was kicked but they’ve been terrific this season on their return to the top flight and briefly topped the table when they beat Betis in October. They’ve lost 7 out of 10 since then  though and have suffered 6 straight away league defeats which is a bit of a concern. However they still look to have solid defensive foundations and with their next three home games against Espanyol, Valladolid and Celta Vigo, they have the opportunity to propel themselves to virtual safety over the next month or so. With a 60% home win ratio this term, they ought to pick up enough points at Los Carmenes to ensure they beat the drop.

Relegation Odds – 15/1

11th – Real Betis (27 points)

Betis look to be coming good now under Rubi with their 3-0 weekend win over Real Sociedad, perhaps their most accomplished performance of the season. The loan signing of Carles Aleñá was a good one and if Borja Iglesias can continue to improve and start to produce the sort of goalscoring form he showed for Espanyol last term, Betis are more likely to be pushing for Europa League qualification than trying to avoid relegation come the end of the season.

Relegation Odds – 49/1

12th – Levante (26 points)

Levante are perhaps the most unpredictable team in La Liga so trying to guess how their season is going to pan out is no easy task. They’ve shown they can lose just about any game with the likes of Espanyol and Alaves having won at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia this season. However this is also a Levante side that has beaten Barcelona at home and won 3 times on the road including a shock win at Real Sociedad. That ability to pull a result out of the bag when it’s least expected may just save them but a poor run of form could see them plummet deeper into the relegation shake-up.

Relegation Odds – 8/1

13th – Osasuna (25 points)

Osasuna are another promoted side who have just hit a bit of a sticky patch after a fine start to the campaign. They are without a victory in 5 games in La Liga having won just 1 of their last 8. A return of just 2 points from their last 4 outings at El Sadar is also a worry given the club record unbeaten home run they had before that.

However they do still look like a team that will be competitive in virtually all their matches with their full-backs offering a real threat down the flanks and Chimy Avila continuing to bang in the goals up top. Jagoba Arrasate will fancy his team can beat the drop with a bit of breathing space but they could do with putting 3 points on the board again before this winless streak starts to play on their minds.

Relegation Odds – 15/1

14th – Alaves (23 points)

Alaves are one of those sides who could be in danger of slipping into the relegation scrap. On the surface, they are a bit short on creative options and have been conceding quite a lot of goals on their travels. However Mendizorrotza remains a tough place for visiting teams to go with Sevilla and Real Madrid the only teams to have won there this season (both by a single goal). Alaves also have perhaps the best strike pairing in the bottom eight with Joselu and Lucas Perez having netted 15 goals between them this season in La Liga, 71% of their team’s goals.

Relegation Odds – 13/4

15th – Real Valladolid (22 points)

Real Valladolid by contrast are a team that really does lack a genuine goal threat. Sergi Guardiola is their top scorer with just 4 goals in 20 appearances and only 3 players have netted more than once. They’ve not won a league game since defeating Mallorca 3-0 in early November but they do keep on grinding out results. 5 of their last 6 in La Liga have finished level and they do have the advantage of being a battle-hardened side that knows what is required to win a relegation battle, having avoided the drop last season on the penultimate weekend.

Relegation Odds – 5/2

16th – Eibar (22 points)

Eibar have managed to steer well clear of the relegation battle in recent years but it looks like it could be a closer call this term for the Basque minnows. Defensively they’ve looked very vulnerable at times and there is a worry that this is a slightly ageing team. However crucially they have started to pick up some more home results, with their 2-0 victory over Atleti last time out their best of the season. With just 2 wins in 15 months on the road in La Liga, there is pressure on them to keep getting the job done at Ipurua though.

Relegation Odds – 7/1

17th – Mallorca (18 points)

With a 4 point gap between 16th and 17th, it’s the bottom four teams that look most vulnerable to relegation and it seems likely that at the very least two of the sides that ultimately go down, will come from Mallorca, Celta, Leganes and Espanyol.

Perhaps slightly unfairly, the bookies still make Mallorca the favourites for the drop despite them currently being above the dreaded dotted line following a fantastic 4-1 win over Valencia last time out. The problem for Mallorca though is that they look completely dependent on their home form having taken just 1 point from 9 matches on the road this term. Worryingly for them, only 8 of their final 18 games are at Son Moix but significantly that does include matches against the likes of Valladolid, Alaves, Leganes, Celta, Levante and Granada. They may need to win the majority of those to stand a chance.

Relegation Odds – 2/5

18th – Celta Vigo (16 points)

For the second season running, Celta Vigo feel like a team that should have enough quality to stay up but remain deep in trouble at the midway point. They have the likes of Denis Suarez, Rafinha and Iago Aspas to call on but they just can’t seem to pull themselves away from this relegation scrap and the appointment of Oscar Garcia hasn’t had the impact many hoped and expected.

They’ve just finished a run of games against the teams in and around them in the table but have failed to win any of them. With just 1 win in 12 league games overall, these are worrying times for Celta fans and they may need more heroics from talisman Iago Aspas, who almost single-handedly pulled them to safety last term. We are likely to see fresh recruits at Balaidos before the month is out though with cash to splash following the big money sale of Stanislav Lobotka to Napoli for €20m.

Relegation Odds – 13/10

19th – Leganes (14 points)

Leganes are a good example of just how quickly momentum can change for in a relegation fight. Their plight looked hopeless when Javier Aguirre took over but they quickly found their feet under the Mexican and went on a 6 game unbeaten streak in all competitions in December and January.

However in the space of a few days, things have taken a drastic turn for the worse. The sale of Youssef En-Nesyri to Sevilla leaves them with a much decreased goal threat and that transfer was immediately followed by a 3-0 home defeat against local rivals Getafe. With the sides around them all getting good results last time out, Lega suddenly appear to have a mountain to climb again.

Relegation Odds – 11/25

20th – Espanyol (14 points)

To add to Leganes’ problems, the only side below them has just poured €29m into new recruits. The purchase of Raul De Tomas, a proven goalscorer at this level and centre-back Leandro Cabrera who has excelled for Getafe, gives them a massive boost. They are exactly the kind of signings you want in this situation – players who are proven performers in this league and should be able to slot straight in.

Hiring Abelardo as the new coach was also a major coup for a club that has already sacked two bosses this season. The former Alaves boss has got instant results with Espanyol holding Barcelona and then winning at Villarreal so far under him. Things are suddenly looking far brighter but with only 14 points on the board, Espanyol still have an awful amount to do if they are going to beat the drop to the Segunda, a league they haven’t played in this century.

Relegation Odds – 13/20


Points & odds accurate as of 21st January. Odds via Betfair.

Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1538 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has also lived in Seville and Barcelona and has written extensively about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer.

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