So far this season, Atletico Madrid are the only team able to keep up with the pace Barça are setting at the top of the table and they will no doubt be hoping their near neighbours Rayo Vallecano do them a favour against Tito Villanova’s team on Saturday. On Sunday Simeone’s team entertain bottom club Osasuna and after their midweek Europa League win, they will be looking to extend their impressive 21 game unbeaten run with a win over the Basques.
Malaga at Espanyol
Malaga could be up to within two points of the top two by kick off time in Vallecas if they see off struggling Espanyol at El Prat –Cornella in the opening game of the weekend. Malaga’s great start to the Champions League was confirmed with a midweek win over Milan and with Espanyol on just five points, Pellegrini’s team, who’ve lost just once on the road so a far this campaign, should start favourites. Real Madrid are fourth in the table and after their defeat in Dortmund on Wednesday, they face another tough trip on Sunday when they visit Mallorca, who have won three of their four home games so far.
If the bottom two face difficult games this weekend, so do Deportivo – just a point ahead of Espanyol on 6 – as they go into the first top flight Galician derby since 2007 when they travel to Balaidos on Saturday. As Celta boss Paco Herrero made clear though, whatever their position in the table: “there are much more than three points at stake here”. Athletic Bilbao are another team in desperate need of points and they will have to lift themselves following Thursday’s defeat in Lyon when they face Getafe at San Mames, whilst their fellow Basques Real Sociedad – who are just a point ahead of Bilbao on 9 – themselves face a tricky visit to Valladolid on Monday night still looking for their first away point of the season.
Valencia back on track
Betis are at home to Valencia, who appear to have got back on track with their wins over Bilbao and BATE, and Pepe Mel will welcome back Spain international Beñat Etxebarrí, whilst Pellegrino looks to build on a good week and win his first league game on the road since taking over . Manolo Jimenez will face his old team Seville in Zaragoza in Sunday’s noon kick off with Michel’s side sitting in fifth, level on points with Madrid, and seemingly over their dip in form with last week’s win over Mallorca.
In the weekend’s other game, Llevant- whose 3-0 win over Dutch league leaders Twente on Thursday made it three wins in a row – are at home to fifth from bottom Granada.