La Liga Preview: Match Day 14

As a Madridista I don’t know if I should be particularly happy that a new match day is here given the fact that we are now “chasing”, BUT, I am a BIG football fan and if there is a game on I’m one happy gal.

After thrashing Real Madrid in the Camp Nou Monday night, Barcelona will travel to Pamplona to take on Osasuna, while rivals Real Madrid will be looking to bounce back when they welcome Valencia to the Bernabéu.  Villarreal will also welcome Sevilla to El Madrigal and the Basque derby will take place between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao at the Anoeta.

Getafe vs Mallorca

Getafe will welcome the Islanders to Madrid in what should be a closely contested match between the two teams.  Mallorca are gradually improving their away record and find themselves 7th in the away table with 7 points, 2 wins, a draw and 3 losses.  Their last away win came against Sevilla in round 12, where they secured a 2-1 win- a late winner coming from Webó.  Getafe’s last two home games ended in disappointing results, picking up only a point from both and that point came in a very disappointing draw against Real Zaragoza.  Mallorca’s last visit to the Coliseum ended in a 3-0 loss.  The last six league matches between these two teams have seen Getafe victorious on three occasions and Mallorca winning one, while the other two ended in draws.  Mallorca’s last win in league against Getafe at the Coliseum came back in 2004 when they secured a 2-1 win thanks to Luis García and Juan Arango.  Getafe will hope to continue their recent dominance in the league against Mallorca when they meet this weekend, as well they want to continue picking up as many points as possible at home.  Arizmendi, Victor Sánchez and Mario are all expected to miss the match up with injury.  While, Mallorca’s Corrales, Enrich and Tuni are all out injured.

Villarreal vs Sevilla

One of the top matches this weekend will be Villarreal welcoming Sevilla to their fortress, El Madrigal.  Villarreal have been impressive this season not only in league but in Europa League and their home record have been superb.  They are one of four undefeated home teams in La Liga, they are the 3rd best home team, recording 5 wins and a draw and have only conceded 2 goals while scoring an impressive 14.  They also have one of the most potent attacking duo in Nilmar and Rossi, who between them have scored 16 goals in total which means they are responsible for approximately 62% of their team’s goals.  Sevilla on the other hand have been slightly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season and are currently on a 2 game losing streak.  Sevilla is currently the 5th best away team picking up 3 wins and 3 losses, their last win coming against Zaragoza on match day 11.  Their [Sevilla] last win at El Madrigal came in May of last year when they beat the hosts 2-0.  However, their last visit ended in a 3-0 loss.  Villarreal will be hoping to close the 7 points gap between themselves and the two top teams with a win but Sevilla will be hoping to close the gap between themselves and Villarreal while at the same time climb back into the top 6.  Villarreal’s only injury problem is Capdevila who is out with an ankle injury which he picked up against Valencia.  Sevilla on the other hand have a few injury concerns to the likes of Fabiano, Navas, Guarente, Koné, Fazio and Dragutinović.

Almería vs Real Zaragoza

A bottom of the table clash will see both these teams under the guidance of new management trying to pick up a much needed win to climb out of the drop zone.  However, both teams are yet to win at home and on the road respectively.  Since being promoted for the 2007/08 season, Almería’s been relatively comfortable finishing 8th, 11th and 13th in their three consecutive seasons of top flight football and this season is far from being comfortable and this may be the season it could potentially come to an end as they are really struggling.  New coach, José Oltra’s league debut was foiled by a loss at Valencia and he will be hoping his team can rectify the situation with their first league win at home.  Zaragoza is the league’s worst team and that is partly because of their horrible away record having picked up a meager 3 points from a possible 18 and are yet to record an away victory.  Aguirre’s first match in charge of the Aragon side ended in a draw at Getafe but his first home match ended in a 3-0 loss to Villarreal.  Zaragoza are only back in the top flight for a year and are looking likely to go back down if they don’t manage to pick up maximum points from their remaining games before the winter break.  Juan Ortiz is suspended for the match while Crusat, Acasiete, Nieto and Pellerano are all expected to miss the match with injuries.  However, they may have Cifre back from injury.  Zaragoza will miss Ander and Contini who are both suspended for the match, while Obradović, Laguardia and Uche are injured but Lanzaro may be back from his injury.

Real Madrid vs Valencia

Real Madrid will be back home at the Santiago Bernabéu to welcome rivals Valencia.  The home team will be eager to pick up maximum points not only to get one over their rivals but also to put the 5-0 thrashing they received Monday night at the hands of fierce rivals Barcelona behind them and get their season back on track.  Valencia’s last win at the Bernabéu came in 2008, when they managed a 3-2 win thanks to a brace from Villa and a goal from Arizmendi.  However, since then Valencia have failed to beat Real at the Bernabéu in the last 2 games and have failed to score in either games.  Valencia will be hoping to put the home team on the racks especially considering their hosts are coming off an embarrassing result and may have lost a bit of confidence but they should be careful because as much as this could be a potential losing streak for Real it could very well be a mean for a cure.  The home team is beginning to struggle with injuries after losing Higuaín to a herniated disc and Canales to an ankle injury.  The good news for the home team is that Ronaldo was given the green light to suit up against Valencia after over coming his inflammed tendon on his right  ankle.  However, both Carvalho and Ramos are suspended for the encounter.  Valencia are also struggling with injuries and are now without the services of their two first choice goalkeepers in César and Moyá.  While, Mathieu is still recovering from his torn calf muscle, David Navarro, Manuel Fernandes and Mehmet Topal are all out due to injuries.

Osasuna vs Barcelona

Osasuna will welcome Barcelona to the Reyno de Navarro hoping that they can cause an upset but will be wary that they have a huge task at hand.  Barcelona are coming off a tremendous performance in el clásico where they humiliated arch rivals Real Madrid 5-0 and have now scored 13 goals in their last two league outings while conceding 0.  Osasuna are one of 4 undefeated home teams in La Liga and are the 6th best home team.  However, their opponents are the best away team with 6 wins out of 6, scoring 21 goals and conceding 3.  Considering that defensive record and Osasuna’s inability to score goals when it matters, it will be an extremely tough match for them in terms of keeping Barcelona out and scoring.  Osasuna’s last home win against Barcelona came back in 2006 when they secured a 2-1 win with goals coming from Valdo and Puñal and since then their last favourable result was a 1-1 draw in October last year.  Both Lolo and Ruper will be missing for Osasuna while both Camúñas and Pandiani are expected back for the encounter.  Barcelona’s only injury concern is Milito who is still recovering from a thigh muscle injury.

Real Sociedad vs Athletic Bilbao

The Basque derby will take place this weekend when Bilbao make the short trip to rivals Sociedad.  Both teams are tied on points and are currently lying 9th and 10th in the table respectively.  These two teams last met in La Liga at the Anoeta in January 2007 which ended in a 2-0 victory for Los Leones.  Bilbao have been bad travellers this season and have only picked up 4 points out of 18 and are the 16th best away team in league.  Real Sociedad have done fairly well at home dropping points only to Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.  Llorente is the top Spanish scorer in league with 9 goals and is the 3rd top scorer thus far.  Real Sociedad will be without Sutil and Ifrán.  While, Bilbao is without the services of Ustaritz, Igor Martínez, Ibai Gómez, Aitor Ocio and Jonás Ramalho all out with injuries.

Espanyol vs Sporting Gijón

Espanyol will welcome Sporting to their domain with the hopes of keeping their impressive 100% home record in tact.  They are the 2nd best home team in league and are one of the two teams that currently have a perfect home record.  As such the hosts find themselves in 4th only 2 points behind Villarreal and 7 behind Real Madrid.  Sporting on the other hand are currently on a 3 game losing streak and are one of the league’s worst away teams with only 2 points from their 6 games.  This game is a must win for the away team as they are 17th in the league but are also only above Málaga due to goal difference.  Another loss for them [Sporting] coupled with wins by Málaga and Almería or Zaragoza could see them plummet to the bottom of the table and at that point Preciado’s job may well be on the line. Sporting’s last visit to Espanyol ended in a 0-0 draw and the last two meetings between the two sees Gijón picking up 4 of the 6 points with Espanyol having trouble scoring.  Espanyol continue to struggle with injuries as Coro, Ruiz, D. García, Duscher, Galán, de la Peña and Mattioni are all out injured.  While, Verdú is suspended for the encounter.  Sporting’s Diego Castro and Landeira are both out with injuries.

Levante vs Atlético Madrid

Levante are back home and hoping to pick up where they left off against Racing when they welcome Atlético to the Cuitat de Valencia.  Both teams are coming off a loss in their last league games and will want to get back to winning ways rather than hit a 2 game losing streak.  Levante however, have not beaten Atlético in all competitions since 2006 where they recorded a 1-0 victory in Madrid in a King’s Cup match.  Their last league win against the rojiblancos was in 2004 when they managed yet another 1-0 victory.  It will be a match up between the 4th worst home team and the 6th best away team.  Atlético will continue to miss Asenjo through injury while, Tiago is suspended.  Sergio, del Horno, Xisco, Iborra, Pérez, Nacho González and Héctor Rodas are out with injuries for the home team.

Deportivo la Coruña vs Hércules

Deportivo are back home and hoping to pick up a win this weekend after they fell victims to Racing last match day.  While, their opponents are coming off the back of a 3-1 victory over Levante.  Deportivo have been on a great run of late and have clawed their way out of the drop zone, sitting 14th with 14 points and a 4 point cushion over the relegation zone.  Hércules are only a point above Deportivo in 13th place.  The last season these two teams met in the first division was in the 1996/1997 season which Deportivo did the double over the Greek God of Alicante.  Hércules’ last away win against the Galicians was all the way back in 1983 in the segunda division.  A loss for either team won’t be too bad with Deportivo only falling as far as 16th while the away side can only fall as far as 15th but other results will have to go against them for that to happen.  Deportivo could welcome back Tomás this weekend but are still expected to be without Morel, Riki, Juca, Zé Castro, Guardado and Míchel.  Hércules will be without the services of Drenthe, Sendoa and Farinos.

Málaga vs Racing Santander

Both teams have equally bad home and away records respectively.  Málaga has the worst home record while Racing are the worst away team having not picked up a single victory.  However, Racing’s home performances are what keeps them out of the drop zone and have given them a 4 point cushion over their opponents who sit in 18th but could climb to 16th with a victory and a loss for both Gijón and Levante.  Racing’s last league match in La Rosaleda ended in a 2-1 victory but the last 6 first division meetings between the two favours the home team as they’ve picked up 3 victories and a draw.  Málaga’s Mtiliga, Galatto, Apoño, Luque and Rosário are expected to miss out through injuries.  Racing on the other hand will still be without their long term injured players, Arana, Serrano and Tziolis.

Top matches of the weekend

Villarreal vs Sevilla: what more can I say about this match up? Guaranteed slick passing and entertaining football regardless of Sevilla’s up and down season.  It should be an intense and entertaining with goals.

Real Madrid vs Valencia: a match between rivals.  It may not be as big as el clásico but it definitely one that is always entertaining.  All eyes will be on Real Madrid to see how they pick themselves up after their defeat on Monday and the first real start for Benzema who needs to prove himself.

Real Sociedad vs Athletic Bilbao: the Basque derby! Nothing more needs to be said.  A match between two rivals is guaranteed entertainment.  Both teams will want to claim bragging rights as the best team in the Basque Country and as such will be fighting tooth and nail to come out victorious.

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