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2012-05-25 FCB - ATHLETIC CLUB DE BILBAO 028-Optimized

Whilst the Madrid derby and Barça’s possible record breaking game against Bilbao are undoubtedly the highlights of the weekend, there is also a debut for Espanyol’s new coach, as the two bottom teams meet in Granada and Malaga, Levante and Betis continue to battle for the European spots.

Atletico hopes high for derby

Atletico have lost just once this season – against three defeats for their neighbours – but boss Diego Simeone insists his team aren’t favourites: “we’re up against a strong team. The current title holders – we’ll just try and play a good game, intense, compact and using the individual skills of the players for the good of the collective”. Real will be without Essien and Higuain for the game, whilst Atletico – who have won their last five games –have no injury worries.

Malaga and Betis in fight for fourth

Fourth place Malaga also play on Saturday, travelling to Getafe and they know that a win, and defeat for Real, could take them to within a point of Mourinho’s team and perhaps more importantly put some distance between themselves and fifth place Betis, who play Deportivo on Sunday. Getafe, who come into the game after back to back wins against Valladolid and Espanyol, are just three points behind Malaga and one off the final European place held by Levante, who have the chance to bounce back from last week’s thrashing when they visit Celta on Sunday.

Aguirre debut

There’s also the prospect of plenty of drama at the other end of the table, where Osasuna did themselves a massive favour on Friday night by beating Rayo1-0. The Basques are, momentarily at least, out of the bottom three with 13 points, whilst the bottom two, Granada(11) and Espanyol(9) meet in Andalucia on Sunday. It’s a tough start for Espanyol’s new boss Javier Aguirre, especially considering his team have won just once away from home so far, though he will no doubt take heart from the fact that Granada have won just once at home themselves.

Mallorca out to break losing run

Mallorca are just a point above third from bottom Deportivo and although they are still without a win in their last ten games, their goalless draw against the Galicians in Thursday’s midweek cup game gave meant they went through to the next round (the two drew 1-1 in the first leg in La Coruña) and Caparros will be hoping that that gives his side a lift ahead of Sunday’s visit of Zaragoza. After losing in the Cup to Cordoba and missing out on the chance to play Barça in the next round, Real Sociedad travel to Valencia on Saturday, where the hosts are still unbeaten, having won five and drawn one game so far.

Finally, with the weekend’s fixture’s spread out over four days, Seville close round 14 when they entertain Valladolid on Monday night.

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