Celebration time in La Liga
Madrid, March 14 (IANS):
It’s time for the Spanish Primera Liga football to enjoy life as it reaches weekend 28 in the season.
The triumphs of Barcelona and Malaga in the Champions League this week means that against the odds Spain has been able to qualify three sides among the best eight sides of Europe, a stark contrast, for example, reports Xinhua.
So there should be a feel-good factor, at least in some grounds, although perhaps the Santiago Bernabeu will be just a bit more subdued given that Barca have made it through to be a serious rival to Real Madrid in Europe.
Real Madrid are at home to a Mallorca side that has won its last two matches to give themselves a lifeline in the battle to avoid relegation.
Madrid’s players have enjoyed a week without a midweek match and should be rested, so although his priority is the Champions League, there is nothing to stop Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho playing his strongest available side and that is bad news for Mallorca.
The weekend starts with Real Sociedad looking to continue their exceptional season at home to Valladolid. Real Sociedad go into the game on the back of their win away to Atletico Madrid and will be favorites to continue their charge into the top four.
Getafe are also hoping to get into Europe next season and are at home to Athletic Club Bilbao. Two successive wins have lifted Athletic clear of the danger zone, but they have never won a league match in Getafe’s Alfonso Perez Coliseum.
Saturday’s games end with another fascinating game as Valencia and Betis go head to head in Mestalla. Valencia’s week has been spoiled with news of their dire financial condition, but the side coached by Ernesto Valverde is still in the fight for a top four finish, which is vital to their financial well-being.
Betis meanwhile are sixth in the table and enjoying a fantastic season with striker Ruben Castro in fine form all campaign.
Sunday at midday should see the Malaga celebration party as they entertain an Espanyol side who have lost a bit of steam in recent weeks. Malaga’s fans will be looking forward to thanking their players for their magnificent achievement in beating Porto 2-0 on Wednesday night.
Barcelona also play Sunday and the atmosphere around the club has totally changed following their incredible 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan and the news coach Tito Vilanova will soon be back at the helm following his cancer treatment in New York.
Also good news for Barca is that rivals, Rayo Vallecano will be without several key players for the trip to the Camp Nou. Full back Casado as well as star striker Leo Baptistao and key midfielder Javi Fuego are suspended due to bookings.
Sunday also sees a fascinating game between Osasuna and Atletico Madrid. Atletico have lost gas and last week’s defeat saw them slip behind Real Madrid in the league table, while the home side needs to return to winning form after consecutive defeats left them just above the relegation zone.
Zaragoza also need to find form given they are without a win in 2013 and dropping like a stone, while the weekend ends with a clash between Granada and Levante.