After spending almost the entire season in the relegation zone, defeat for Levante at Real Betis this weekend could, finally, confirm their inevitable demotion from Spanish football's top flight...
With just 21 points left to play for, and seventeen points adrift of safety, La Liga's bottom side are really just playing for pride in a week in which they are also awaiting news that could rescue the club from bankruptcy: The Valencia government are currently considering a loan agreement with Levante who's financial troubles mean that many of the club's employees, including players, have not been paid their full salaries for several months.
Levante midfielder, Javi Fuego, insists that the team must remain focus on the events on the pitch. He . said: "We will approach this game, like any other, as an important match in the top flight. We are aware that our situation is quite bad, we know that a slip-up for us and wins for other teams will see us lose our Primera Liga status, but we must go into the match with the idea of winning and without thinking of other things.
"To play any match in the Primera Liga is something to be proud of, and as such every player must search for their own personal form of motivation. I know what mine is (for this weekend) - I am going to play in a good stadium, against a good opponent and I will defend these colours with the maximum humility and pride until the end." said the 24 year old.
Levante travel to a side looking to secure their future in the Spanish top flight this weekend: Real Betis, currently tenth in the table are jut one point short of the 42 that should guarantee survival. That benchmark will be reached with a palpable sense of relief for Betis who started the season badly, but have steadily improved since Christmas and go in to this weekend's match in decent form after having won their last three Liga fixtures: against Real Zaragoza, Barcelona and Osasuna.
The fact that Betis are playing in front of their home fans will be an added bonus for the home side, although whether or not they should be playing at the Manuel Ruiz de Lopera is another matter altogether. Betis, you may recall, were handed a two match stadium ban for a bottle throwing incident a month ago. If you'd forgotten about the ban, don't worry, you are in good company: it seems that the Spanish authorities have forgotten all about it as well.
Levante were 4-3 winners the last time these two sides met earlier in the season.
Form Guide: Real Betis W6 D1 L3 (Home W7 D3 L4)
Levante W2 D1 L7 (Away W1 D1 L13)
Mark Gonzalez and Juanito face late fitness tests for Betis.
Levante are very likely t be without Inaki Descarga, David Castedo, Mustapha Riga, Mathieu Berson and Vladan Kujovic.