After the round of International matches La Liga is back with match day 7! Men, do I hate International breaks, only when they interrupt the season though. However, as long as football is on my television set I am one happy woman. So, I did enjoy many of the games that took place during the little break and I enjoyed seeing my Brazilian and Spanish teams winning their games.
This weekend we should see some entertaining games and perhaps the biggest match of the weekend is Barcelona taking on Valencia at the Camp Nou. Hopefully the match will not be lopsided as it has been in the past few years. The Madrid Mini-derby will also take place this weekend with Atletico Madrid welcoming Getafe to the Vicente Calderon, while rivals, Real Madrid will make the trip to Andalusia to take on Malaga, who have been struggling at home and haven’t won a match in over 6 months at La Rosaleda; their last win coming against Villarreal.
Barcelona vs Valencia
Probably the most exciting game of the weekend. Valencia will make the trip to Catalonia to take on Barcelona. This is a game that you can certainly expect goals as in the last five encounters between the two we have seen 17 goals with Valencia being outscored 15 goals to 2, including that heavy 6-0 thrashing they received in May 2008. However, Valencia will be looking to set the record straight once and for all as well as, send a clear message to all their opponents who think they are just a fluke. Valencia sit atop the table with 16 points only one point above second place Villarreal and three points clear of their weekend opponents. A victory over the Catalans would give Valencia a huge boost in morale and according to attacking midfielder Alejandro Dominguez, securing three points will lead many to believe that Valencia can win the league this season. However, a win for Barcelona will see them climb to 1st, in the event that neither Real Madrid nor Villarreal secure three points in their league match ups. The home team may have some injury concerns as Xavi still hasn’t been given the green light as to whether or not he can play, while Villa came back from International duty with a knee injury and Pedro had picked up that hamstring strain against Mallorca in the last league encounter. However, all three players did manage to fully train on Friday and should be available for selection. Also, they may miss Gabi Milito due to an adductor problem. Valencia on the other hand, have two players ruled out of the weekend’s game due to injury, Joaquin who is suffering from an ankle sprain and Miguel is bothered by a muscle problem. Marius Stankevicius had a bout of gastroenteritis on Wednesday but should be available for selection this weekend.
Atletico Madrid vs Getafe
The mini-Madrid derby takes place this weekend with Atletico Madrid welcoming neighbors Getafe to the Vicente Calderon. Over the past five league games between these two Getafe have been the happier of the two, winning two, drawing two and losing one against Los Colchoneros. Atletico have lost their early season steam after that loss to Greek side Aris in the Europa League which eventually lead up to that loss to Barcelona- all happening after key man Aguero picked up his injury. Getafe is hoping to build on their last performance against Hercules and also add to their strong head-to-head record against the Colchoneros by securing a win against their neighbors. Atletico’s major injury concern is obviously that of their heart and soul, Aguero who still has been absent from training. However, they can be happy that Godin has begun to train again but still may not be match fit for this weekend’s match, while Dominguez will certainly miss the match as he is still injured. Getafe on the other hand have been getting some positive news as Miguel Torres, Rafa, Casquero, Gavilan and Arizmendi have all trained this week without limitations and have all been included on the weekend’s squad list.
Malaga vs Real Madrid
Malaga with their new found wealth being led by fellow Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira are struggling on home turf and have only picked up points away from home this season. Malaga last won at home some 6 months ago with that last win coming against Villarreal. However, that won’t stop Malaga from believing that they can break that duck and earn their first league win at home this season. Considering their last home match against Real Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw, which saved the home side form relegation last season will certainly give the Anchovies (Boquerones) some confidence heading into this match. The head-to-head between these two teams in the last two seasons have seen Madrid victorious on 3 occasions, including that memorable 4-3 see-saw match up at the Bernabeu which saw Higuaín scoring his first hat-trick and subsequently his first 4 goals in one match for Madrid, while Malaga have only managed to gain one point from one of the four encounters, which came last season on the the final day of the league. The home team’s only injury concern is goalkeeper Ruben who picked an injury in training this week, while Eliseu will be suspended for this match after being sent off last weekend. Coach Jose Mourinho has now lifted the suspension he handed down to Pedro Leon and has included him on the squad list. Canales and Albiol have both recovered from their respective injuries and are included in the squad list while Ramos (who came back from International duty with an injury) have been left off as a precaution, Gago aggravated his injury in training last week and Garay and Kaká are still absent with their respective injuries.
Racing Santander vs Almeria
Relegation candidates Racing and Almeria play each other this weekend and are both hoping that the result may go their way. Both teams are only separated by two points with Racing sitting in 18th place and their counterparts sit in 14th place. Both Racing and Almeria are struggling to score goals and have only manged 8 between themselves. However, Almeria can boast that they are the stronger of the two in defence and have only conceded 5 goals this season. The past five league encounters have seen Racing earn only one win and two draws while Almeria have won the remaining two. Racing’s last three home games against Almeria ended with the visitors winning the last two. Racing are having some major injury concerns, particularly on the left wing as both Arana and Serrano are injured as well, Tziolis will miss the match as he just underwent surgery for a fractured tibia. Almeria on the other hand has been given some good news as Uche will be available to play and that is a major boost for the visitors as the in form Nigerian is responsible for 60% of the team’s goals scored this season.
Deportivo La Coruña vs Osasuna
Two sides that have been struggling to find the net in their first six outings, scoring only a mere seven between them. However, Osasuna can boast of their staunch defence having only conceded six, while their counterpart have let in an astounding 11, the 2nd worst defence in the league, only Malaga have conceded more than them. Deportivo especially have been struggling to score goals and managed only three, two of which came in the same game against Getafe from the penalty spot both scored by Mexican winger Guadardo, while the only goal from open play came in their last league match where they were humiliated by Real Madrid, 6-1. The home team is yet to pick up a single victory since the league kicked off and have only earned themselves 3 points. However, if this problem persists then this just might be the season that the Deportivo faithful will have to accept that their side may well be relegated from the La Liga BBVA to the Segunda Division. If things couldn’t get any worst for the home team it just did as both Juca and Guadardo may well be missing this weekend’s match as both are struggling with a hamstring injury while Valeron, Riki and Michel are also struggling with injuries. Osasuna’s Puñal is suspended for the match while, defender Sergio, goalkeeper Ricardo and front man Panidiani are in a race against time to be fit for the game on Sunday.
Levante vs Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad will make a trip toValencia to take on Levante. The last La Liga meeting between these two ended with Sociedad winning 1-0 at the Anoeta. Although they started the season slowly, Levante have now picked up 5 points and are undefeated in their last three league outings. Real Sociedad on the other hand have lost some steam since the start of the season when they secured a 1-0 victory over Villarreal and then followed up with a draw against Almeria, after which they suffered a run of 3 consecutive defeats but picked up a win in their last league match before the International break. Levante will welcome back Javi Venta, Ballesteros and Del Horno. However, they will be without Rafa Jorda and Iborra. Real Sociedad, on the other hand are having injury doubts with Sutil and Griezmann- the latter expected to feature as he only suffered a minor muscle injury.
Mallorca vs Espanyol
Mallorca are coming off a great result and subsequently their first point on the road this season against Barcelona in the last league match, after they drew 1-1 at the Camp Nou. Espanyol on the other hand have been struggling on the road and last match day lost again to an unfortunate own goal from Forlin. They have now lost all three away league games this season and is yet to score a goal, conceding an astounding 8 goals. Mallorca can report an almost clean bill of health as all their players (Aouate and Nsue) who were doubtful have been declared fit to play, while Nunes is the only concern and the decision will be made prior to the game. Espanyol will welcome back Sergio Garcia, however, they will continue to miss Kameni, Ivan de la Peña and Ivan Alonso.
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Zaragoza
Struggling Zaragoza will make the trek to the Basque country to take on Athletic Bilbao. However, San Mames has never been a place that many teams have enjoyed much success and with the current predicament the visitors find themselves, chances are they probably will not be leaving with a point, but this is football anything can happen. Zaragoza, like Deportivo, are struggling this season and they too have yet to pick up a solitary victory, earning 3 points from 3 draws thus far. The last 5 matches between these two have been close fought encounters with both securing a narrow victory once each and three draws. Los Leones will be without David Lopez who picked up an injury in their mid-week friendly, while Javi Martinez, Amorebieta and Ustaritz are doubtful. Zaragoza on the other hand are having some injury concerns as young talented midfielder Ander is carrying a muscle injury and may not feature. The visitors will also miss goalkeeper Leo Franco through injury as well as they will continue to miss Uche and Laguardia. Also, Jarosik is suspended for the game.
Sporting Gijón vs Sevilla
Sporting have only managed one win so far this season and two draws and will welcome Sevilla to El Molinón this weekend. This should be a tough match for Sporting as they haven’t always done well against the visitors, having won only one of the last four meetings between each other. Sporting are struggling a bit and after they squandered a comfortable lead last match day against Zaragoza, there are some concerns for Preciado as his team seem to be losing focus at the back a lot this season. The home team will be missing Botia, through suspension and at the same time both Novo and Canella are struggling with their fitness and are both doubts for the game. On the other side of the pitch their counterparts welcomed back Capel and Caceres to training this week and both are expected to make some feature. Navas is still doubtful and both Sanchez and Fazio are definitely out of the game.
Hercules vs Villarreal
Hercules will welcome Villarrel to the Jose Rico Perez stadium on Monday, where they will be hoping to secure yet another upset. The visitors are currently on an amazing run having won 6 consecutive games in all competitions and they have the two most potent strikers in the league this season in Guiseppe Rossi (4) and Nilmar (5).
Top matches of the weekend
- Barcelona vs Valencia: Perhaps the biggest and the most important match of the weekend. Certainly one never lacking in goals with both sides hoping to secure three points, three points that would certainly set them on their way to solidifying the top spot in the league. Valencia are perhaps the side in better form but the Blaugrana are never one to fear their opponents and it definitely helps that they are on home turf as well they have been excellent at home against their opponents in recent seasons. Although, over the past couple years the match up between these two have been lopsided more than anything, one does get the feeling that this may be the match that Valencia believe they can garner something from the encounter.
- Atletico Madrid vs Getafe: The mini-Madrid derby. Usually a testy affair and an affair known for plenty cards and entertainment as both teams constantly find themselves in the shadow of their other neighbors, Los Blancos. Michel’s side are slowly coming into some kind of form while we are unsure as to what Atletico side may show up for the match, as they have slowly started to fall back into that impasse that we saw so much last season, of them having good and bad games intermittently.
- Malaga vs Real Madrid: Any game involving Los Blancos is always a top game and now considering that Mourinho is coach it almost always has to be a top game not only for what will take place on the field but also what will take place in the post-match press conference. This game is even more special because both bosses are Portuguese as well as one was the professor while the other was the student. Additionally, recent media reports have been saying that the two have never really gotten along, however, Mourinho cleared up such rumors in one of his press conferences this week. This is one that the whites should be winning easily but no team has ever made it easy for the Merengues and they will have to fight hard to overcome a difficult Malaga side, including putting the brakes on both Quincy and Rondon, the two most crucial players to Malaga’s success.