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Puyol against Getafe / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Falcao not the only threat for Atlético

On Saturday night, Valencia face high flying Atlético Madrid and their goal scoring machine Falcao, who has scored in 11 consecutive games . Valencia are one of the few La Liga teams that the Columbian hasn’t scored against , but  Portuguese defender Joao Pereira warned “Atlético aren’t just Falcao. There are other players who can play well and decide the game – we’ll need to play as a team and not just think about him”. Atletico boss Diego Simeone also forecast a close game, claiming: “we will be up against a big team, who are need of  the points and are obliged to go out and win – it’ll be a very tough game”.

Madrid without Xabi Alonso

Arbeloa is back for Real Madrid for their game against Zaragoza, ahead of a testing week with games against Dortmund and Llevant, but Mourinho is still without Marcelo and Coentrao, as well as midfielder Sami Khedira and the suspended Xabi Alonso. Malaga are seven points behind Barça and Atletico Madrid in third and they kick off the weekend’s action at home to Rayo, before Tuesday’s trip to Milan. Rayo’s midweek defeat away to second division Las Palmas was their third on the trot and they have won just once on the road so far this season, whereas Malaga remain unbeaten at home.

Time to start winning at the bottom

Sunday’s games should clarify some of the issues at the bottom, with Osasuna at home to Valladolid, Espanyol away to Real Sociedad and Granada and Bilbao meeting in Andalucia. Espanyol lost midweek in the Cup to Sevilla, Osasuna went down to Sporting, Granada were beaten in Zaragoza and Bilbao were held to a goalless draw by Eibar, so all of them will need to lift their game as they look for much needed points.  Third from bottom Deportivo drew 1-1 at home to Mallorca in their Cup game on Thursday and the two teams will be back at Riazor on Sunday, as the Islanders look to put a stop to a run of four straight league defeats.

Sevilla banker?

Sixth place Levante visit seventh spot Sevilla on Sunday night and with the Valencians having won once and lost three times on the road and Sevilla lost once and won three games at the Sanchez Pijuán so far this season, the wise money will probably be on a home win. Sevilla’s city neighbours Betis, who are fifth, play at Getafe, who are themselves comfortably positioned in eighth, a point behind Seville and a further two off Levante and Betis.

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