Romaric “we can win at the Bernabéu”

The Bernabéu has not been a happy hunting ground for Espanyol in recent years, but their
midfielder Romaric, who scored for Sevilla when they beat Madrid 3-4 in 2008 insisted
that despite their recent poor run of form – just two points from the last four games –
Espanyol “are convinced we can get a result there. It’s possible to win and we are going
without fear, we’ll stay true to our footballing philosophy and although they are a big team
– it’s really just another game”. Madrid will be without the suspended Pepe and the injured
Coentrao, Di Maria and Benzema as they try to extend their nine-game winning run in the league.

Tricky trip for Valencia

Valencia face a difficult looking game in Granada against Abel Resino’s improving outfit, who
have won both their home games under the new boss and thrashed Real Sociedad at the
Nuevo Las Carmenes a fortnight ago. In contrast, Valencia are coming off a terrible run, with
just one league win since Christmas and a severe beating in their last away game at the Camp
Nou, though they will have undoubtedly lifted by Soldado’s performance in midweek for Spain
when he grabbed a second half hat trick. The teams below Valencia will all be looking to make
up ground, with Levante hoping to build on last week’s big win at Espanyol when they play
Betis on Monday night.

Basque derby

Athletic Club, Málaga and Osasuna are all a point behind Levante and they all face a
tough weekend. The Basque derby at San Mamés on Sunday comes at a sweet moment for
Athletic who are fifth in the table, Cup Finalists and due to travel to Old Trafford next week,
but defender Mikel San Jose warned: “there are a lot of teams within a few points of each
other and if we let Real take three on Sunday, there will be one more side in the mix”. Real
themselves are on a good run, with three home wins on the run –though they have lost their
last two on the road.

Málaga away form has to improve

Málaga are away at Getafe and Pellegrini’s team know they have to improve on their awful
away record, the fourth worst in the league with just two wins so far this season, if they are
to mount a realistic challenge for a top four spot. Osasuna for their part have actually won
one less game than Málaga on the road and they visit Mallorca without the injured Lekic and
suspended Patxi Puñal to face the Islanders who have won their last two home matches.

Negredo and Falcao miss big game

Sevilla and Atlético Madrid are also very much back in the fight for the European spots, on
32 points, just three behind Levante, and they meet at the Sanchez Pijuan on Saturday night,
though both will be without their star strikers as Negredo is injured and Falcao is suspended.
In the weekend’s other games, Villarreal will look to build on last week’s point against Bilbao
and put another nail in Zaragoza’s coffin in Sunday’s noon game at La Romareda, whilst
Racing need the points from their trip to Rayo if they are to begin to claw their way out of the
relegation spots.

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