With Barça, Atletico and Real Madrid all winning at the weekend, the top three spots look pretty nailed on in La Liga, but there are intriguing battles for fourth place and at the bottom.
There are just six points between Malaga in fourth and Betis in eighth spot with the resurgent Valencia, Real Sociedad and Rayo sandwiched in between.
Saviola strike sinks Bilbao
Javier Saviola’s first half strike was enough to see Malaga past Bilbao and leave Pellegrini’s team fourth, seven behind Real Madrid, ahead of this week’s Champions League tie with Porto. Valencia’s Champions League defeat to PSG last week was a blow to Valverde’s in-form side, but they shrugged that off to beat Mallorca 2-0 at the Mestalla on Sunday to stay two points behind Malaga. Second half goals from Ricardo Costa and Soldado gave Valencia the win despite playing with ten men for more than an hour after Tino Costa was sent off. Real Sociedad missed the chance to stay up with Malaga and Valencia when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Levante. The Basques dominated the game, especially after Karabelas had been sent off on the hour mark for Levante, but were unable to add to Carlos Vela’s first half penalty, which Michel equalised with one of his own soon after. Real are three points behind Valencia, but with both Malaga and Valverde’s team set to visit Anoeta before the end of the season, Malaga scheduled for games at the Bernabeu and Camp Nou and Mestalla hosting Malaga in April, the Basques look to have the easier run in in the chase for the fourth Champions League place.
Espanyol get fifth straight home win
Betis continued their recent poor form, going down 1-0 to Espanyol, who recorded their fifth straight home win and with 31 points they are now sitting 12th and look to have consolidated mid-table safety. Seville and Getafe both sit a point above Espanyol after beating Deportivo and Celta 3-1.
Relegation gloom deepens for Celta, Mallorca and Deportivo
That defeat for Celta leaves them third from bottom and four points off safety on 20 and could cost manager Paco Herrera his job, with Abel rumoured to be set to take his place. The defeats for Mallorca(18 points) and Deportivo (16) deepened their relegation woes, whilst Osasuna’s 1-0 win over Zaragoza lifted them a point above the visitors, who are now fourth from bottom with 24 points. Bilbao’s defeat pushes them into the relegation battle, with just a point more than Osasuna and level with Granada in 14th and their next three games – at home to Real Sociedad and Valencia and away to Osasuna- are looking crucial to extricating themselves.
Ramos scores and sees red
Atletico Madrid brushed aside any doubts after two defeats in a week with a 0-3 win in Valladolid. Falcao got his 20th goal of the season, whilst Diego Costa and Cebolla Rodriguez got the other two. Real Madrid stay four points behind Atletico after they beat Rayo 2-0 at the Bernabeu, with youngster Alvaro Morata scoring after just three minutes and Sergio Ramos doubling the lead ten minutes later. Unfortunately, the Spanish international defender then saw two yellow cards within a minute to leave his side to play out 70 minutes with ten men and limit Morata’s contribution to 25 minutes, as he was replaced by defender Albiol to cover for Ramos.