La Liga Previews : Saturday's Spanish football fixtures
20:00 Valencia - Recreativo
22:00 Sevilla - Zaragoza
A look ahead to both of Saturdays La Liga matches as a resurgent Valencia look to grab a European spot at the expense of struggling Recreativo, and Sevilla hope to build upon their excellent home record against terrible travellers Zaragoza...
Valencia CF v Recreativo de Huelva
Valencia coach Ronald Koeman will be optimistic that his side can continue their revival against struggling Recreativo at the Mestalla on Saturday. The Dutchman will be boosted by the welcome return of Ruben Baraja and Vicente after both players missed the last month through injury.
After nine league games without a win Valencia have now scraped together seven points from a possible nine. They now sit in ninth place and two points off Sevilla in sixth.
The bad news for Koeman is that striker David Villa misses the game through suspension following his red card against Getafe last week. Ivan Helguera is also suspended while Alexis, Fernando Morientes and Miguel are all out injured.
Santiago Canizares, Miguel Angel Angulo and former captain David Albelda are still in Koeman’s bad books, with the latter’s Friday court hearing hanging over the club like a black cloud. The involvement of several key squad member at the hearing may prove to as divisive as it will be distracting.
Recreativo will just be focused on avoiding relegation and are in decent form after winning their last two matches. New coach Manuel Zambrano has clearly had a positive effect and last weeks ten man win over Deportivo was particularly inspiring.
The Andalucians are not out of the woods yet, however, and their fifteenth placing in the league only sees them four points from safety.
Central defenders Martin Caceres and Beto have not travelled to Valencia as both are suspended. Poli is definitely out through injury , but Jesus Vazquez has been declared fit and it is hoped that Iago Bouzon could make his return to the side after a long term injury.
Sevilla FC - Real Zaragoza
Saturdays other fixture sees a Sevilla side looking to bounce back from their midweek Champions League defeat to Fenerbahce with a win over Zaragoza. After some sloppy defending in Turkey, where Sevilla conceded three, Saturdays match looks set to have plenty of goals as well.
The media are billing this match as the clash of the two most deadly strike partnerships in La Liga: Kanoute & Fabiano versus Milito & Oliveira. The four strikers have notched up 50 Liga goals between them this season already.
Sevilla must be considered as favorites and go in to the match as the in form side. They have gone four games unbeaten – 10 points from a possible 12 – and climbed into the top six of the Primera Liga last weekend with a 4-2 win at fifth-placed Espanyol. Furthermore, Manolo Jimenez has not seen his Sevilla side lose at the Sanchez Pizjuan since November 2007.
Zaragoza, on the other hand, have been dreadful away from home and, in spite of a definite improvement under Javier Irureta, have still only managed to register 6 points from a possible 33 ( 1 win in 20) away from the Romareda this season: the second worst away record in the division.
With regards to team news, Sevilla are without Ernesto Chevanton who underwent an operation this week and will be in plaster for at least three weeks.
Zaragoza are likely to start with the same side that lost to Barcelona last week, with Aimar and Cuartero still out injured. Matuzalem has made the squad and could make an appearance after several months out injured.