La Liga Review looks ahead to all of the midweek Spanish football action as Real Madrid get ready to celebrate their 31st league title win by throwing a party when they host rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. Elsewhere there is still planty left to play for as Valencia and Zaragoza go head to head to avoid relegation and Atletico seek to secure Champions League football for next season. Includes Team news and form guides...
Wednesday 7 May 2008 (Spanish Time)
20:00 Betis - Valladolid
20:00 Getafe - Almería
20:00 Recreativo - Villarreal
20:00 Deportivo - Levante
20:00 Valencia - Zaragoza
20:00 Mallorca - Osasuna
20:00 Murcia - Athletic
20:00 Racing - Sevilla
22:00 R. Madrid - Barcelona
Thursday 8 May
21:00 Espanyol - At. Madrid
Real Madrid CF - FC Barcelona
So that's it then: Real Madrid are Champions of this season's Primera Liga. Its hardly been a vintage season and the eventual winners have not exactly been brilliant.
This is a Madrid side that lost five matches out of seven just a couple of months back, and the only thing that they have consistently been this season is inconsistent. That is not to say that they are undeserved winners, because they are. No matter how bad this season's La Liga has been, Real Madrid have been the best team: they have won the key matches that they needed to win - including beating Barcelona at the Camp Nou - and shown on numerous occasions that they simply wanted to win the league more than their rivals.
Speaking of their rivals, it has been a fairly interesting couple of weeks at Can Barça and ever since Rijkaard's side were knocked out of the Champions league there has been speculation aplenty regarding potential signings and managerial changes.
The sight of the city of Madrid in full party mode and the prospect of having to forma guard of honour for their bitter enemies has had everyone concerned with Barcelona trying to distract themselves with speculation. In the last 24 hours we have seen Pep Guardiola emerge as favourite to manage the club next season, as well as a whole host of names emerge as potential new recruits: a list that includes the likes of Dani Alves, Philip Lahm, Garay, Coloccini, David Villa, David Silva and Didier Drogba. Meanwhile, almost half the first team have been linked with a move away, the most surprising of which has been Samuel Eto'o - don't laugh - linked with a move to Spurs.
There has even been a rumour going around today that Ronaldinho has had a medical at a private clinic in Barcelona and that he has been told that he is finished as an elite athlete. Honestly. It's in SPORT -so it must be true.
Of course, all of this is an attempt to help Barcelona fans forget that their must team must play the part of the clown at Real Madrid's celebratory bash at the Bernabeu tomorrow , invited just so that the kids can laugh and ridicule them for ninety odd minutes.
It won't be pretty, unless you are a Madrid fan, but Barcelona must swallow their pride and get on with the task of winning the match. And win they must, particularly if they are to stand any hope of clinching that vital second place from Villarreal who are four points in front of them.
Barcelona go in to the match on the back of a 6-0 drubbing of Valencia on Sunday, but will have to make do without the suspended Samuel Eto'o and Deco. Rijkaard has also just been given the bad news that Gabi Milito has suffered one of those dreadful cruciate knee ligament injuries that rules him out for at least six months. Ronaldinho and Andres Iniesta are also missing through injury.
Madrid coach Schuster should have virtually a full-strength squad to choose from , but Fabio Cannavaro should miss out through suspension following his red card against Osasuna. Guti may return to the side.
Real Madrid were 1-0 winners at the Camp Nou earlier in the season
Real Madrid W7 D1 L2 (Home W15 D0 L2) Barcelona W2 D4 L4 (Away W4 D8 L5)
Real Betis Balompié - Real Valladolid CF
Betis are safe, but Valladolid must win this one in order to be sure of surviving a late relegation battle. It doesn't look good for the visitors however, Betis are the form side in La Liga while Valladolid have lost more away games than any side except Murcia and Levante.
These two sides drew 0-0 earlier in this season
Betis W5 D2 L3 (Home W7 D3 L6) Valladolid W3 D3 L5 (Away W5 D1 L11)
Valencia CF - Real Zaragoza CF
This is perhaps the most interesting clash of the day. These two sides finished 4th and 5th last season, but now find themselves battling relegation: a financial catastrophe for either of them and this is a game that neither can afford to lose. A fight to the death.
Valencia go in to the match fresh from a 6-0 hammering at the hands of Barcelona and, just two points off the relegation zone, it really has been a nightmare season for Los Che.
The two sides drew 2-2 earlier in the season
Valencia W2 D1 L7 (Home W5 D3 L9) Zaragoza W3 D3 L4 (Away W1 D5 L11)
Getafe CF - UD Almería
It's been almost two months since Getafe won in any competition, and the season really has imploded following those UEFA and domestic cup defeats. After the euphoria of their cup campaigns, Laudrup's side are now battling relegation and must win this one to avoid it going down to the wire.
Thankfully for Getafe, Almeria never managed to beat Getafe while the two sides were in the Segunda, and they haven't yet beaten them in the top flight.
Getafe were 2-0 winners in the reverse fixture
Getafe W2 D4 L4 (Home W6 D6 L5) Almeria W3 D4 L3 (W4 D5 L8)
Recreativo de Huelva - Villarreal CF
Villarreal beat Getafe last week thanks to a 2-0 home win, and they'll be looking to make it four wins in a row on Wednesday evening as they bid to secure second place in La Liga. Recreativo, on the other hand, must win to avoid the drop.
The two sides drew 1-1 at the Madrigal earlier in the season
Recreativo W3 D2 L5 (Home W 6 D6 L5) Villarreal W7 D1 L2 (Away W10 D0 L7)
Deportivo La Coruña - Levante UD
Despite being relegated, Levante, are showing plenty of spirit, as they showed in their 1-1 draw with Espanyol at the weekend. Depor are safe and looking to secure a place in the Intertoto Cup.
Depor were 1-0 winners the last time these two side met in La Liga
Deportivo W7 D1 L2 (Home W8 D3 L6) Levante W3 D1 L6 (Away W2 D1 L14)
RCD Mallorca - CA Osasuna
Osasuna have won their last two Liga games at the San Moix and historically have won 12 games to Mallorca's 5 overall between the sides in the top flight, a further 11 ending in draws.
Osasuna were 3 -1 winners when these two met earlier in the season
Mallorca W6 D2 L2 (Home W7 D6 L5) Osasuna W3 D2 L5 (W4 D3 L10)
Real Murcia CF - Athletic Club Bilbao
Murcia are relegated and Athletic are looking to secure a place in the Intertoto cup.
The match finished 1-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season
Murcia W2 D1 L7 (Home W6 D4 L7) Athletic W4 D2 L4 (Away W4 D3 L9)
Real Racing Club - Sevilla FC
Racing's win over Murcia at the weekend means they are chasing a UEFA Cup spot and enjoying their best ever season in the top flight. Sevilla are just one point behind them: setting up a crucial match as the pair battle it out for European competition.
Sevilla were 4-1 winners earlier this season
Racing W6 D0 L4 (Home W10 D3 L4) Sevilla W5 D1 L4 (Away W5 D3 L9)
RCD Espanyol - Club Atlético de Madrid
It feels like a very long time ago that Espanyol were once so close to a Champions League place, yet it was just before the Christmas break. A dire run since January now means they are just seeing out the remainder of the season with nothing to play for.
Atleti, on the other hand, have it all to play for and a win at Montjuic will go a long way to securing fourth place and Champions League football for next season.
Espanyol were 2-1 winners when these two met earlier in the season.
Espanyol W2 D3 L5 (Home W 8 D3 L6) Atletico Madrid W5 D2 L3 (Away W6 D5 L6)