La Liga Review brings you all this weekends Spanish football action and previews...
Saturday 15 March 2008 (Spanish time)
20:00 Betis - Athletic
20:00 Recreativo - Murcia
20:00 Deportivo - Real Madrid
22:00 Valencia - Sevilla
Sunday 16 March
17:00 Villarreal - Zaragoza
17:00 Valladolid - Osasuna
17:00 Getafe - Racing
17:00 Espanyol - Mallorca
19:00 Almeria - Barcelona
21:00 Atletico - Levante
Saturdays match at the Mestalla between Valencia and Sevilla (Preview) is one of four La Liga matches that takes place on Saturday evening: Spanish league leaders Real Madrid travel to an improving Deportivo (Preview), while the other two matches feature sides all battling against relegation.
Betis (15th) host Athletic Bilbao (13th) and the home side will be looking to bounce back from their 3-0 hammering in Santander last week. Athletic lost this fixture 3-0 last season and their record on the road this season does not bode well, having lost more than half of all games played away from the safety of the intimidating San Mames.
Recreativo (18th) are another side looking to recover from a bad defeat as they look to make amends for a 7-1 clobbering in Mallorca last week. Thankfully for Recre they are at home to Murcia (19th) this weekend, a side who haven't won a game since beating Osasuna on January 6th. Just six points separate these two sides at the bottom of the Spanish league table.
The early evening match sees Barcelona (2nd) travel to Almeria (8th) for a match that they absolutely must win if they are to stand any chance of catching Madrid at the top of La Liga. (Preview here)
Villarreal CF (3rd) - Real Zaragoza (14th)
Zaragoza cannot afford to look behind them: they are just three points clear of relegation and their win over Atletico Madrid last week was absolutely vital. New boss Manuel Villanova will need to pull off something special if his side are to get anything from a Villarreal side who sense that they could snatch second place from Barcelona following their convincing win at the Camp Nou last weekend.
Getafe CF (10th) - Real Racing Club (5th)
Getafe are on a high after beating Benfica twice to make the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. 'EuroGeta' (as the press now call them) host Copa del Rey semi-final opponents Racing Santander, which will be the second of three meetings between the two sides in a matter of weeks. The hosts have established a 3-1 lead over Racing in their cup tie.
That might hand Getafe, who have not lost in their last ten La Liga fixtures, the psychological advantage over Racing; but the home side need to be careful, the visitors are deserving of their fifth place in La Liga and are a well organised a disciplined side. Should be a fascinating encounter between two of Spanish football's rising managerial stars.
Real Valladolid (17th) - CA Osasuna (12th)
Valladolid's 2-0 defeat at Athletic last week leaves them just two points off relegation but Sundays fixture give them an opportunity to overtake their visitors in the league placings - that’s how tight the Spanish league is this season.
The last time these two sides met in 2003-04, the match ended in a 1-1 draw and a repeat looks likely. Osasuna have scored just eight goals on their travels all season.
RCD Espanyol (7th)- RCD Mallorca (11th)
Espanyol must recover from last weeks undeserved defeat to Real Madrid by bouncing back against Mallorca in a bid to keep their European dreams alive. The Barcelona club's recent form has seen them blow a tremendous start to the season that threatens to leave them outside of European qualification for next term. Espanyol's David Garcia summed up the mood amongst the Pericos when he said "I'm going to be really F***ked off if we don't do this."
Mallorca, fresh from their outstanding 7-1 win over Recreativo last week, will probably settle for a repeat of the 2-2 draw the last time these two side met.
Club Atlético de Madrid - Levante UD
Atletico must move on from last weeks defeat at Zaragoza and pick up all three points against bottom club Levante. Unfortunately for under fire Aguirre it's one of those games that you can never really win - so fierce will the criticism be if Atleti lose, yet a win will be received as a formality.
Twelve points from safety and rooted to the bottom of the Spanish league table, Levante look like a pushover, but they are not. They stretched Sevilla last weekend and are showing a real never say die attitude. but they have "only" lost three of their last seven, and ran Sevilla close last week.
Atletico beat Levante earlier in the season and they must do so again if they are to hold on to fourth place - and dare we say it - if Aguirre is to hold on to his job in the summer.