Saturday’s three La Liga fixtures are highlighted by what should be an entertaining clash at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez between ninth-placed Getafe and a Villarreal team desperately trying to hang on to the coat tails of the top two, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Geta boss Michel this week cited the ‘Yellow Submarine’ as the example his club should follow, and his team are in goalscoring mood with six in the last two games.
Sevilla, having slipped to tenth with three successive defeats, face next-to-bottom Almería at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Gregorio Manzano’s men are under pressure to perform as the natives are getting restless even at this early stage of proceedings, and a win would bring some welcome relief before next week’s visit to the Bernabéu.
The other fixture sees Atlético Madrid at home to a slowly-improving Deportivo. With only three points separating them a win is vital for both as they seek to gatecrash the top six.
After their midweek European diversions both Barcelona and Real Madrid turn their focus back to league action on Sunday, with Pep Guardiola’s charges seemingly having the more difficult task. A confident Real Sociedad visit the Camp Nou on the back of two straight wins and up to sixth in the league, but Barca will be firing on all cylinders after fielding just two regulars in the midweek win over Rubin Kazan. Real Madrid’s visit to bottom club Zaragoza looks like a penalty kick against opposition with just a solitary win all season, and Karim Benzema will be hoping for a starting place after his hat-trick exploits against Auxerre.
With no stand-out fixtures to speak of on Sunday the most attractive game could be at the San Mamés where Athletic Bilbao welcome fourth-placed Espanyol. The visitors haven’t tasted defeat since a 3-0 reverse at Deportivo at the end of October and will fancy their chances of staying in the Champions League places before next week’s Catalan ‘derby’ with Barcelona.
Another side looking to jump into European contention is Michael Laudrup’s seventh-placed Mallorca. The islanders face a Racing outfit with only one point to its name from seven away matches, but they will have to do it without impressive left-back Kevin García who has been ruled out for three weeks with a torn hamstring suffered in last week’s 3-0 defeat at Getafe.
Osasuna face a tough trip to Unai Emery’s Valencia, and with the visitors having notched only one goal away from home in seven attempts the hosts must be fancied to pick up their fifth win at the Mestalla. Argentinian striker ‘Chori’ Dominguez is ruled out for the home side.
At the wrong end of the table Sporting Gijón face Levante and Hércules receive a Málaga team revitalised by Manuel Pellegrini’s arrival and last week’s 4-1 home win over Racing. Hércules’ unbelievable win at Barcelona earlier in the campaign now looks a distant memory as they look to avoid dropping into the relegation pack.