Atlético’s 2-4 win in Wednesday’s re-arranged game at Betis leaves them a couple of points behind Barça, though the four goals mean they have actually scored one more than Tito Villanova’s team, with Falcao topping the goalscorers’ chart with seven to Messi’s six-goal tally so far. On Sunday they visit El Prat- Cornellà to take on Espanyol, who have still to win and sit second from bottom with just a single point - though boss Mauricio Pochettino insists: “when results go badly, the manager is always the first to come under pressure and I accept that, but I have full confidence in my players. We just have to stay strong and have a cool head”.
Málaga look to keep up the pace
Málaga are a further two points off the pace and on Saturday they entertain Betis, who are sixth, despite their midweek defeat. Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini warned his players: “Betis are a top team and have stayed true to their philosophy – Pepe Mel has done a great job”. Campbell and Perquis were both sent off against Atletico and will miss the game for Betis. Third place Mallorca – who are level on points with Málaga – travel to Getafe on Monday night.
Basque derby in Donosti
The Basque derby at Anoeta on Saturday sees both Real Sociedad and Bilbao in need of points, whilst Valencia – sandwiched between the two Basque clubs in 15th kick off the weekends’ games with a home match against Zaragoza without injured central defender Ricardo Costa, though with the chance of Gago returning to the starting line up. On Sunday, Real Madrid will begin a big week – taking on Deportivo at the Bernabeu before the midweek trip to Ajax and next weekend’s game at the Camp Nou, whilst at the bottom, Osasuna will be looking for their first win when they play Levante in Pamplona.
In the weekend’s other games, Granada host Celta at noon on Sunday and Rayo visit Valladolid.