A busy afternoon for Spanish footballs 'also rans', as former Barcelona team mates Koeman and Laudrup go head to head when Getafe host Valencia, whilst Recreativo and Deportivo scrap it out to avoid relegation, Villarreal and Racing fight over Europe, Almeria appear favourites against Murcia and Atletico chase their Champions League dreams in Bilbao...
Recreativo v Deportivo
A genuine six pointer sees 17th place Recre host 18th placed Depor. The game finished in a draw on the last two occasions that the Galicians travelled down to Andalucia and this encounter also promises to be a tight affair.
Recreativo came out on top (0-2) at the Riazor earlier this season and Zambrano will be confident that his side can do the double over the away side after seeing Recre notch up an impressive win over Espanyol last weekend. The Recreativo coach will have to do without Iago Bouzon and Jose Maria 'Pampa' Calvo on Sunday match, but Ersen Martin returns from suspension and Portuguese midfielder Beto should return to the side after recovering from an illness.
In the away dugout Miguel Angel Lotina will be able to count upon Alberto Lopo and Sweden international Christian Wilhelmsson but Andres Guardado and Cristian Hidalgo are both unavailable to the Depor coach.
Levante v Osasuna
Osasuna ran out 1-4 winners on their last visit to Levante, thanks to a Soldado hat-trick, and the visitors are favourites on this occasion as well.
Ziganda travels to Valencia Javier Flano and Walter Pandiani, with Jose Izquierdo and Javier Portillo taking their places in the Osasuna squad. Hugo Viana and Igotz Garde have also been omitted while Javad Nekounam, Miguel Flano, Xabier Margairaz and Enrique Corrales are all missing through concerns over match fitness.
Levante have recently claimed five points from three games against Real Mallorca, Real Murcia and Racing Santander, yet still look an absolute certainty to go down. Defeat to struggling Athletic Bilbao last weekend brought their mini revival to an end and Levante remain 12 points adrift at the foot of the table.
Levante skipper Inaki Descarga is suspended against his old club, while Damiano Tommasi and Shota Arveladze are both out injured. Alex Geijo should return for the home side.
Almeria v Murcia
Almeria host Real Murcia to the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos on Sunday and the home side, this seasons surprise package, are certain favourites.
Unai Emery’s side have won four of their last five league fixtures – seeing off the likes of Real Madrid, Valencia and Espanyol. In fact, Almeria have lost just two matches in all competitions since mid-November. Eighth in the Primera Liga standings, level on 33 points with Sevilla and just one behind sixth-placed Racing Santander, next weeks opposition, Almeria have impressed all season. Emery is able to name the same squad for the third successive game and has no new injury concerns or suspensions to disrupt the sides run of form. Consequently, new signings Veljko Paunovic, Guilherme and Iriney Santos are finding it tough to break into the side.
In stark contrast, Murcia are on their way down after taking just one point from a possible 15 in their last five games. They sit second from bottom of the Primera Liga table, two points behind Recreativo Huelva and possible safety. Juan Cruz Ochoa, Jofre Mateu and Baiano are all missing through injury, while Alvaro Mejia and Paco Pena are suspended.
Getafe v Valencia
Valencia coach Ronald Koeman and Getafe boss Michael Laudrup both starred in Johan Cruyyf’s Barcelona ‘Dream Team’ that lifted the European Cup in 1992. However, their friendship will be set to one side when their respective sides clash at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez this evening.
Ninth placed Valencia travel to Madrid in the hope that they have finally turned a corner following successive league victories away at Valladolid and at home to Real Betis. Those victories brought to an end a run of nine games without win for Koeman. The Dutchman has Serb striker Nikola Zigic back after injury but faces doubts over striker Fernando Morientes and defender Miguel. Alexis Ruano, Ruben Baraja, Vicente and Javier Arizmendi are all definitely missing through injury.
Getafe are five points behind Valencia in 12th and could only manage a draw with lowly Depor last time out in La Liga. Jaime Gavilan is the only fresh injury concern for Laudrup after the suffered concussion during Getafe’s midweek UEFA cup trip to AEK Athens.
Vllarreal v Racing Santander
Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini goes in to tonights game secure in the knowledge that his side cannot surrender a Champions league spot, whilst knowing that a win will make his sides position safer still. Opponents Racing are having a fantastic season, on the other hand, and will see tonights game as an opportunity to close the gap on the top five.
For Villarreal, Bruno Soriano has recovered from the blow to the knee he picked up in midweek against Zenit St Petersburg, but Marcos Senna, Matias Fernandez and Fabricio Fuentes are all missing through injury; the latter will not play again this season. Pellegrini is also denied the services of the hugely impressive Joan Capdevila, and striker Guille Franco, who scored an injury-time winner against Murcia last week.
Racing have suffered a mini slump in recent weeks, having picked up just two points from their last four league games, and were made to look very ordinary by Atletico Madrid last weekend. However, they remain in sixth place in La Liga and have also progressed to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.
Racing coach Marcelino Garcia Toral is without Pedro Munitis, Aldo Duscher, Ebi Smolarek and Luis Fernandez through lack of fitness. However there is some good news: Tono, Mohammed Tchite and Jorge Lopez have been given the all clear and have been included in an 18-man squad.