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Mascherano i Koné (Llevant). FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

The most attractive of the four matches being played on Saturday will see Malaga play host to Valencia in their first home game since clinching a place – along with Valencia - in the knockout stage of the UCL. The game has the whiff of a six-pointer with the two clubs looking likely to challenge for the European places at the end of the season. Valencia manager Mauricio Pellegrino will be without suspended striker Roberto Soldado and has a number of regulars sidelined by injury.

Atletico look to home form

Third-placed Real Madrid travel down to Andalucia to take on a Betis side still smarting from last weekend’s humiliating 5-1 defeat to local rivals Sevilla. The visitors are likely to field much the same side that drew 1-1 with Manchester City in the midweek UCL game, though Özil will probably come in for Modric. For Jose Mourinho and his players it’s a game they just have to win in order to try and close the gap on Atletico Madrid and Barça.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid are the only team to have won all six of their home league fixtures so far this season. They play host to Sevilla and a win for Atletico would put them temporarily on level pegging with Barça on 34 points. In-form Columbian striker Falcao returns for Atletico after being rested for the midweek Europa league win against Happoel Tel Aviv.

Valladolid need the points ahead of Barça clash

Granada, who sit just one point clear of the bottom three, travel to Valladolid. The home side are a relatively comfortable five points clear of the relegation zone but with consecutive home games coming up against Barça and Real Madrid, they need to take all three points this weekend.

Joaquin Caparros takes his Mallorca team to Madrid to face Rayo Vallecano. The visitors are still looking for their first away win of the season while Rayo will hope to bounce back from their poor showing in the Anoeta last weekend.

These are troubled times for Espanyol. The team is languishing at the foot of the table while Boardroom battles have rocked the club. The new president will make his debut in the directors’ box on Sunday and the atmosphere in the stands will no doubt be tense. Getafe will hope to take advantage of the turmoil to take all three points away from the Cornella Stadium and boost their own European ambitions.

Celta look for first away points

Deportivo go to Bilbao knowing that they have only lost once in their last seven visits to Athletic Club. For their part, the Basques need to chalk up the points ahead of their next league outing to the Camp Nou.

In the final game of the weekend, Zaragoza welcome Celta to La Romareda on Monday evening. The visitors have lost all six of the away games this season but could make some headway against a Zaragoza side that has lost three of their six home matches.

Finally, in the game brought forward to Friday, Real Sociedad and Osasuna fought out a goalless draw in the Anoeta Stadium. The result does neither side much good with Osasuna still in the bottom three while Real Sociedad remain in mid-table.

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