La Liga Preview: Week 7 (Oct 16-17)
As Valencia and Barcelona take on each other, Villarreal and Real Madrid focus on a golden opportunity to shorten the distance from the top.
Spain performed brilliantly last week for the Euro 2012, and this Saturday La Liga's action returns to see whether Unai Emery's Valencia can maintain its leadership upon Pep Guardiola's visit.
The four leaders have opened a three points gap from the other candidates. This week's games will have a great impact on the table standings. From the bottom position, Deportivo should take advantage of Osasuna at the Riazor to save them from a recurrent nightmare.
Not only action returns to La Liga: David Villa, Pedro and Xavi will most likely be fully fit for Saturday's game, while Jose Mourinho recovers Raul Albiol, Sergio Canales and Pedro Leon.
Saturday's early game will be utmost important for the European Fight. Getafe is occupying the last Europa League's place, and the Colchoneros (reigning European champion) won't hesitate on sending the Azuones back home empty handed.
Much more than three points will be in play in Madrid's derby. Atletico's manager Quique Sanchez Flores will once again have to do without Sergio Aguero and Domingo Alvarez, and it's made clear his absence greatly undermines Colchoneros' attack. "Getafe has improved the quality of its football and their objectives, but their humble behavior guarantees an excellent performance. They offer always100% and are absolutely reliable" stated Indios' coach.
Getafe's manager Michel is getting used to doing without Ibrahim Kas and Mario Alvarez, but for this game he recovers Dani Parejo, Miguel Torres, Jaime Gavilán, Rafael López and Javier Arizmendi. Both teams know a draw won't help them get any closer to the leaders.
Six times have both teams faced each other at the Vicente Calderon in the Primera Division with two victories for each and two draws. This game will have a particular morbid pleasure for Getafe's midfielder Javier Arizmendi (former member of Atletico's youth team).
"There's a long path to walk, but a victory will be essential to lift our spirit and boost our morale. This will be our fast confrontation with a top-tier rival. We're confident we'll make a good game. The result of this game will be utterly important to measure our capabilities against a rival like Atletico) declared Arizmendi.
Who will reach the qualifying positions by Saturday's night?
There's no doubt this game will receive major attention all around the globe, as Pep Guardiola's Blaugranas will be taking on the leader at the Camp Nou, where the Cule's performance has been far from satisfying.
Sixteen points grants Valencia the top position, but the leadership could only be secured with a victory against the reigning champion. Barcelona's top striker David Villa meets face to face their former team mates in a clash of giants of consequences unknown. "It'd be weird to see him (Villa) wearing different colors, for he's a great player and a dear friend, but all I think about is victory" said Valencia's striker Juan Mata.
Valencia has suffered when facing rival of its level: they could only obtain one point against Atletico and were defeated by Manchester United for the Champions League. A victory will also send a message to Jose Mourinho and Juan Carlos Garrido, who wouldn't be able to reach the Bats at least for another week.
There will be many absentees on both sides: Xavi and Pedro, who've been training with normality during the week, might finally not be risked by Barcelona's coach, while Emery will have to do without Joaquin Sanchez and Miguel Brito (struggling with injuries) while Marius Stankevicius has not been training with the team for a gastrointestinal infection.
"The next match is to be faced with personality and a strong and opened mind.. This is not easy, Barcelona tied only one game in the last season: They might not be having the easiest of time nowadays, still they're always Barcelona. We foresee a gigantic Barcelona and we believe if we continue doing things the right way we can claim the three points" said Emery.
Lio Messi and David Villa's partnership will offer a tough riddle to solve to Che's offense. Guaje's Blaugrana loyalty will be tested for the first time, who will claim this six pointer?
"I believe we can hurt Madrid with our speed, even without Eliseu" said Malaga's defender Wellington. Perhaps this kind of self-confidence is what weakens Jose Mourinho's squad playing away.A victory on Saturday's night might take Real Madrid once again to the top position, as the hosts struggle to get into the top six to show their worth to the continent the next year.
Last week's sound 6-0 victory boosted the spirit of the Merengues, and much of this has to do with Cristiano Ronaldo's shinning present. Sergio Ramos is going through an excellent moment himself, but is ruled out with injuries for this game after injuring with Spain's National Football Team during the week.
Malaga has not beaten Madrid in the last 27 years. Perhaps this is one of the curses the Boquerones need to break not to suffer until the last minute to maintain Spain's first category. The game will be greatly influenced by the result of Valencia - Barcelona, for this might be one of the defining moments of the tournament.
Malaga's coach Jesualdo Ferreira will be missing his goalkeeper Ruben as well as Eliseu and Juanmi. Boquerones' coach should come up with a clear idea not to be overwhelmed by the Blancos at the Rosaleda. Malaga ended up in the 17th position of the last tournament but is living a new life this season, standing at the 10th position with 7 points.
Malaga invested 17 millions USD during the summer to be able to deal with rivals of this category. Mou's dream team will test its form against a rising squad "The pressure will be higher for Madrid" stated Malaga's coach. The hosts have not yet celebrated a single victory at home this season, will they survive to Saturday's late game?
The bigger you are, the harder you fall. Deportivo is struggling to survive to the Liga's fight without much success, as the Depor does not even know what a victory feels like. Jose Antonio Camacho's boys occupy the 15th position but might be relegated to the last position upon a defeat.
A quick look at the last matches Osasuna played away might even favor the hosts in this game, for the Rojillos have neither obtained a single victory nor scored a single goal in the last three matches outside Navarra.
There will be many important absentees for the game. Camacho will have to do without Walter Pandiani, Sergio Fernández and Patxi Puñal, while the hosts lose Andrés Guardado and Juca. This is a perfect opportunity to try some alternatives to strengthen the playing of both teams, but the pressure of the game might stop them from taking full advantage of the situation.
The importance of the game is evident, but Osasuna's coach expressed it with more clarity than any other "Almost all of us depend on a single game to fight either at the top or at the bottom of the table standings. Our main objective is maintain our position for the next two or three weeks"
Deportivo's coach Miguel Angel Lotina might not survive another defeat. Who will claim this relegation six pointer?
This will be a tough year for the Verdiblancos, as the 18th position force Miguel Angel Portugal to introduce major modifications on his scheme not to be sank at the basement by the end of the week. Almeria's coach Juanma Lilllo loses Hernán Pellerano and Miguel Ángel Nieto, and the visitors might be brought to the risk zone upon a defeat.
The good news of the week for Lillo is Kalu Uche's return, for Nigeria's international joined Almeria during the week and appears to be fully fit. Diego Valeri has recovered from his injuries and might also have a shot within the starting eleven, and his finesse will surely come in handy to outwit Racing's defense.
Alexandros Tziolis will be missing the whole season and Miguel Angel Portugal will have little time to come up with a substitute for the Greek international. Henrique, on the other hand, is back on the starting eleven joining Marc Torrejon on the back line.
It'll be a tough match with two teams of similar forces. The form of both squads will be tested upon this game. Follow this game and all Liga's action on LiveSoccerTV.com.
Both Levante and Real Sociedad share a common past in the Liga Adelante and will meet each other in a decisive clash for the category. Luis Garcia's boys have shown strong credentials to maintain the category, and will be eager to celebrate their first victory at home against a direct rival.
Both teams use a highly defensive 4-2-3-1 formation, relying heavily on the prowess of their strikers to overcome the opposing defense. Erreala's top striker Raul Tamudo will count with the assistance of young Jeffrey Sarpong, former Ajax's player.
Chile's international Claudio Bravo will defend the visitors' goal against Levante's powerful gunners. Levante recovers most of its defense for this game, as Javi Venta, Sergio Ballesteros and Asier Del Horno are almost confirmed for Sunday's game.
This game will shake the very foundations of the relegation fight. The three points will have a great impact on the fight for the category, who will leave the Iberostar Stadium with a smile upon its face?
Mauricio Pochettino's Pericos visit the Iberostar Stadium in a decisive match for the European fight. Standing at the 8th and 9th position respectively, the three points will allow the winner to join the restless top fight.
"Our rival is really dangerous, and we need the victory to capitalize the point obtained against Barcelona" said Mallorca's coach Michael Laudrup.
The security of the Rojinegros' goal at home is unchallenged, for Dudú Aouate has kept his goal shut week after week this season. Espanyol, on the other hand, has never scored playing away, and it seems Pochettino's boys will have a tough nut to crack on Sunday's evening.
Diego Guzman and Fernando Cavenaghi will have to assume Mallorca's offense on his own, specially considering team's captain Nunes is ruled out with injuries. The visitors recovered Osvaldo a few weeks ago and his sheer efficiency in the last meters might grant the hosts the three points.
Regarding his rival's strengths, Pochettino declared "Michael Laudrup is a young, charismatic coach that fuels his team with a great vitality. He's respected for his creativity as a player, and the defensive skills and speed of his team is fearsome. It'll be a tight game"
Fernando Llorente has just been through a wonderful week with Spain's National Football Team and will be eager to prolong his winning streak against Zaragoza at San Mames. Jose Aurelio Gay's boys are sharing the last position with Deportivo and they depend only on themselves to escape from the basement and secure their continuity in Spain's top football category.
Joaquin Caparros' Lions started the season in the best possible manner, but two consecutive defeats have undermined their promising path, standing at the 11th position with seven points. Zaragoza's last three visits to San Mames have granted the Maños one important point.
"This is an excellent opportunity to make up for the lost time" stated Athletic's midfielder Javi Martinez. But it might not be such an easy task considering Zaragoza won't hesitate on defying the Lions "You cannot go to San Mames and wish for a goalless draw. Fernando Llorente can score at any moment and obtaining an early advantage will be our priority" said Zaragoza's Ander Herrera.
Jiri Jarosik's absence will compromise Zaragoza's defense against one of the most experienced strikers of the league. Ivan Obradovic is likely to make some room for Leo Ponzio, as the performance of the Serbian international has been far from satisfying so far.
Javi Martinez's return will boost Athletic's offense, joining Gaizka Toquero and Llorente on the attack. Athletic's form will be tested against one of the weakest rivals of the category, will they be upto the circumstances and claim the three points?
Sunday's late game features Sporting and Sevilla and much more than three points will be in play for both sides. Manuel Preciado's Rojiblancos should be very careful on how they deal with Sevilla's offensive prowess, as the visitors might overwhelm Sporting's defense if given space to create.
Sporting will be missing Roberto Canella and Alberto Botía, injured and banned respectively. These bad news will be balanced by Nacho Novo's return, undisputed leader of Sporting's attack.
Sevilla's coach Gregorio Manzano has been the subject of many critics, as the Palanganas' efficiency have greatly diminished with Luis Fabiano's absence. The Brazilian monster is likely to be among the starting eleven, though Sevilla will be missing Jesus Navas and Diego Capel.
Sevilla needs the three points badly to join the top fight as Sporting's players are eager to open a bigger gap from the basement. Who will claim the three points?