L'altra cara del partit davant l'Atlètic de Madrid FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

On Monday, bottom side Deportivo sacked their manager Domingos Paciencia after just five weeks in charge. His successor Fernando Vazquez was upbeat when he took over ahead of Friday’s game against Seville: “we’re not going there for a draw”, he insisted - and he was right as Deportivo crashed to their 14th defeat of the season, with two goals from the Chilean Gary Medel to leave the Galicians rooted to the bottom on 16 points and maybe eight points off safety by the end of the weekend. Their defeat could give a glimmer of hope to some of the teams above them with Osasuna(22) hoping to leapfrog Zaragoza(24) with a win in Pamplona on Saturday night, Celta(20) away to Getafe and Mallorca(18) facing the toughest looking game when they travel to Valencia, who will be aiming for a convincing win to bounce back from their midweek Champions League defeat and climb up into the top four.

Atletico suffer first home defeat of the season

Second place Atletico Madrid also lost at home in Europe this week, as Rubin Kazan inflicted their first home defeat of the season with a 0-2 win. There’s something of a mini crisis – at least in results - at the Vicente Calderon, with the Europa League defeat following last week’s loss to Rayo and they will be looking to put a stop to that on Sunday when they travel to Valladolid, who have impressed with their open football since promotion this season and have only been beaten at home so far by Betis, Real Madrid and Barça. Real Madrid are just four points behind Atletico, but with Xabi Alonso definitely out injured, Mourinho may decide to rest other big names for the home game against sixth place Rayo ahead of what could be a defining few days in the Cup and Champions League in a couple of weeks’ time and after the exertions against Manchester United midweek.

Malaga host Bilbao

Malaga are a further seven points behind Real Madrid in fourth place and they host Bilbao ahead of their Champions League game against Oporto and the trip to Betis next week. Bilbao’s shocking performance in last week’s 0-4 defeat against Espanyol has left them in danger of being sucked into the relegation fight, sitting 15th on 26 points, whilst Malaga are unbeaten in the league since they lost to Barça in January. In contrast, Betis have not won in their last four games and have slipped to eighth, though they are only three points behind Malaga. The Seville team face a tough trip to in-form Espanyol, who have climbed up to 13th on the back of a run of four wins and a draw in their last five games.

In-form Real closing in on European spot

Real Sociedad are another of the league’s in-form teams right now, with just one defeat in 2013, and the 10 points they have taken from their last four matches has taken them to the brink of a European spot. The Basques currently sit level on points with Betis in seventh and a win against ninth place Levante(33 points) in Sunday’s noon kick off could really make them serious challengers for a top four place.

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