Previews all of this weekend's Primera Liga Spanish football action: including team news & form guides...
Saturday 12 April 2008 (Spanish Time)
20:00 Valencia 1 - Racing 2 FT
22:00 Recreativo 2 - Barcelona 2 FT
Sunday 13 April
17:00 Valladolid - At. Madrid
17:00 Betis - Levante
17:00 Getafe - Zaragoza
17:00 Espanyol - Osasuna
17:00 Deportivo - Athletic
17:00 Mallorca - Sevilla
19:00 R. Madrid - Murcia
21:00 Almería - Villarreal
Valencia CF - Real Racing Club
Koeman's 'Headless Chickens' - Joaquin said that, not me - take on a side managed by one of the Valencia coach's possible successors...Click here for full Preview
Recreativo de Huelva - FC Barcelona
This bizarre front page photo tells you all you need to know about the headline regarding this fixture: The return of Lionel Messi. Click here for full Match Preview
Real Valladolid - Atlético Madrid
Victory over Levante last weekend moved 15th place Valladolid a little closer to that all important target of 42 points, and with seven games remaining just one more win, and a draw would see them safe. Jose Luis Mendilibar's side have recently discovered a confidence that was distinctly lacking when they slipped to six defeats in nine games during February and March; and the return to form of top goalscorer Joseba Llorente, who has scored a goal in each of the side's last two wins, is a welcome boost.
However, they face a tough task this weekend as they host fourth placed Atletico who will be looking to consolidate their hold on a Champions League placing.
This is a difficult game to call, as the only thing predictable about Atletico is their sheer unpredictability. They are currently in decent form, having won three of their last four and last week ran out 6-3 winners over an Almeria side reduced to nine men for a large part of the game. They still have a habit of conceding unnecessarily, but the side from Madrid boast an impressive attacking line up, as Mendilibar is aware.
The Valladolid coach said: " Atletico are perhaps the most unpredictable team in the league and we will need to be 100% alert , at times they may seem to lack balance between their attack and defence which could be good for us. But if we aren't careful, especially when we have the ball, they can break away very quickly and hurt us."
Valladolid were 1-0 winners when the two sides met at the Vicente Calderon earlier in the season
Form Guide: Valladolid W3 D2 L5 / Atletico Madrid W5 D1 L4
At the moment, Atletico have few injury problems. However, a flu virus seems to spreading throughout the camp and the bug that hit Christian Abbiati in midweek caused Aguero to miss training yesterday. Leo Franco, out through injury since December, should return in goal.
Valladolid look like having a fully fit squad.
Real Betis Balompié - Levante UD
After spending almost the entire season in the relegation zone, defeat for Levante at Real Betis this weekend could, finally, confirm their inevitable descent in to the segunda division. Click Here for Full Preview/ Team News / Form
Real Madrid - Real Murcia
Real Madrid will be looking to maintain their 7 point lead at the top of the La Liga table when they host, second from bottom, Real Murcia at the Bernabeu on Sunday. Click Here For Full Preview / Squads / Form Guide
Mallorca - Sevilla
A 2-0 win over second-placed Villarreal last weekend leaves Sevilla in sixth spot heading into this Sunday's game against Mallorca. After a shaky start to the season, Sevilla are now just five points adrift of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.
Tenth placed Mallorca drew their home match with Real Madrid last weekend and with 41 points they have no all but secured their place in the Primera Liga for next season. Mallorca defender Hector Berenguer knows that with Sevilla pushing for a Champions League, his side will have to be at their very best. He said: "I was watching them against Villarreal and they look back to their best. It will be a difficult match for us."
Mallorca were 2-1 surprise winners the last time these two sides met earlier in the season
Form Guide: Mallorca W3 D6 L1 (Home W6 D6 L3) / Sevilla W6 D1 L3 (Away W4 D2 L9)
Ernesto Chevanton, Adriano and Javi Navarro are all likely to be missing for Sevilla through injury, while Enzo Maresca remains suspended.
Mallorca playmaker Ariel Ibagaza is doubtful for the match, but Gonzalo Castro is fit again and could feature at some point.
DEPORTIVO - ATHLETIC BILBAO
Deportivo's home clash with Athletic Bilbao has been given added spice after a number of Bilbao players have been speaking out against Depor coach, and former boss of Athletic, Joaquin Caparros.
A shock 3-1 win at Racing Santander last week saw Deportivo move up in to 13th place and, with 40 points they are almost assured La Liga survival. Caparros spent two seasons at Deportivo, before joining Athletic last season, and it appears that he was not popular with all members of the Depor dressing room.
Deportivo's Fabricio Coloccini has spoken out against his former boss this week, saying " With Caparros there was no communication with the players and you were left doubting whether it was you who was failing or the coach. But I have never doubted my abilities."
The Argentine defender, who this week was linked in the British press with a move to Arsenal, has scored 3 goals for Depor, under Miguel Angel Lotina, this season, but was never permitted to go forward under Caparros.
" I am lucky that I am free to go to the opposition area when we have a set-play and I have scored three goals.Our current style of play gets the crowd involved more. I notice it on the pitch and in the street because people on the street let you know all about it. That makes you happy because we want to do things well and make the crowd enjoy themselves," added Coloccini.
Athletic have moved up to eighth place following four wins in five matches, and alongside Deportivo, have been one of the most in form sides throughout the second half of the season. That improvement has seen both go from being relegation candidates to outside contenders for a UEFA cup spot.
Both sides go in to the match in a similar vein of form ,however, the difference may lie in the home advantage: Depor are unbeaten in six at the Riazor and Athletic have managed just five away wins all season.
Athletic have picked upall three points on their last two visits to the Riazor - winning 2-1 on 2005/6 and 2-0 last season .
The two sides drew 2-2 when they met in the reverse fixture in Bilbao earlier in the season.
Deportivo W6 D6 L2 / Athletic Bilbao W5 D3 L2
Deportivo : Andres Guardado is out for the rest of the season but Albert Lopo returns from suspension and should start. Bodipo and Antonio Tomás are omitted for 'technical reasons', while Cristian Hidalgo is deemed not yet fit enough for first team action.
Squad: Aouate, Munúa (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Barragán, Coloccini, Pablo Amo, Adrián López 'Piscu' (defenders); De Guzman, Sergio, Filipe, Juan Rodríguez, Wilhelmsson, Lafita, Verdú, Valerón (midfielders); Xisco, Riki and Taborda.
Athletic Bilbao: Left-back Asier del Horno, and Pablo Orbaiz (ankle) Gorka Iraizoz (muscular injury) all miss the trip through injury.
Depor Squad: Armando, Aranzubia (goalkeepers), Ustaritz, Amorebieta, Koikili, Iraola, Murillo, Aitor Ocio (defenders), Yeste, Cuéllar, Iñaki Muñoz, Javi Martínez, Gabilondo, David López (midfielders), Garmendia, Llorente, Etxeberria and Aduriz (strikers).
Remaining Fixtures To Follow.....