La Liga Review looks ahead to all of this weekend's Primera Liga Spanish football action, where Real Madrid could be crowned Primera Liga champions on Sunday at Osasuna: before they have even kicked a ball. Includes team news, squads and form guides...
Schuster's Madrid side enjoy a 10-point lead over second-placed Villarreal plus a better head-to-head record against Pellegrini's team, and anything other than a win for the Yellow Submarine at home to Getafe earlier on Sunday will be enough to guarantee a 31st La Liga title for Real Madrid ahead of their match later on that evening.
La Liga Fixtures
Saturday 3 May 2008 (Spanish Time)
20:00 At. Madrid - Recreativo
22:00 Zaragoza - Deportivo
Sunday 4 May
17:00 Sevilla - Valladolid
17:00 Almería - Betis
17:00 Villarreal - Getafe
17:00 Levante - Espanyol
17:00 Athletic - Mallorca
17:00 Racing - Murcia
19:00 Barcelona - Valencia
21:00 Osasuna - R. Madrid
Team news and Previews will be added and updated throughout the weekend...
Atlético de Madrid (4th) - Recreativo de Huelva (16th)
Atletico Madrid fans have been jeering and whistling their team in recent weeks, while demanding that Javier Aguirre's be sacked. The team are fourth in the Primera Liga, hold a two point lead over fifth placed Racing Santander and three points over Sevilla, with four games left to play this season. Atleti have spent 20 weeks of the season in the top four and are set to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in a very long time after enjoying one of their most successful seasons in a number of years. The opposition to coach Javier Aguirre reached a crescendo in Atleti's 6-3 win over Almeria a couple of weeks ago.
Apparently, open hostility towards the manger and the team is what qualifies as supporting your team in Spain. So, expect more of the same on Saturday evening as Atleti fans will be sure to and jeer and hurl abuse at their side from the first minute of the match as they host relegation threatened Recreativo Huelva on Saturday evening.
Recreativo sit just two points above the drop zone in 16th place after their 2-0 win over bottom side Levante that condemned the Valencia club to the drop. Huelva are not safe yet themselves and will have to do much better than in their last away trip to direct rivals Real Zaragoza, where they were beaten 3-0 after giving away two early goals.
The home side will find it difficult against a side that is battling for survival and that will be looking to hit them on the counter. With the home fans getting on the backs of their team if, after 10 minutes of play, Atleti are leading the match by at least five goals, then this could make for an interesting match.
Recre and Atletico drew 0-0 earlier this season
Atletico W4 D2 L4 (Home W10 D2 L5) / Recreativo W3 D3 L4 (Away W4 D4 L9)
Recre coach Manolo Zambrano will be without one of his key players, Portuguese midfielder Carlos Martins, through injury while centre-back Quique Alvarez is suspended.
Javier Aguirre still has injury doubts over wingers Simao Sabrosa and Jose Antonio Reyes which may see Luis Garcia lining up for Atletico on the left wing.
Real Zaragoza (18th) - Deportivo La Coruña (7th)
This is a game that Zaragoza really must win as they welcome one of the most in-form sides in La Liga to La Romareda on Saturday. The home side may be unbeaten in their last three matches, but they remain in the bottom three and are two points away from safety with just four game remaining. This will be a tough fixture for Zaragoza, as their visitors are on an incredible rub that has seen them win ten of their last 14 Liga matches.
Things do not get any easier for Zaragoza after this weekend either as they face Real Madrid, Valencia and Real Mallorca in their remaining three games.
Deportivo's impressive run of form has seen them climb up from the bottom two and up to seventh place in the league. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Espanyol and Racing Santander have all tasted defeat at the hands of Deportivo since Christmas and the Galician club now has a UEFA cup spot in its sights.
Diego Milito, Zaragoza's leading scorer this season with 15 goals, has missed the last two matches but could return on Saturday, while Gabi is suspended.
For Deportivo, Antonio Barragan is out with a serious injury and Angel Lafita is serving a ban.
These two sides drew 1-1 earlier this season
Zaragoza W2 D3 L5 (Home W8 D6 L3) / Mallorca W8 D1 L1 (Away W6 D4 L7)
Sevilla FC (6th) - Real Valladolid (14th)
These two sides drew 0-0 earlier in the season
Sevilla W5 D1 L4 (Home W11 D1 L5) / Valladolid W4 D2 L4 (Away W5 D1 L10)
UD Almería (8th) - Real Betis Balompié (12th)
Betis were 3-1 winners when these two sides met earlier in the season
Almeria W3 D3 L4 (Home W9 D4 L4) Betis W6 D1 L3 (Away W5 D5 L7)
Villarreal CF (2nd) - Getafe CF (13th)
Villarreal were 3-1 away winners when these two sides met earlier in the season
Villarreal W7 D1 L2 (Home W10 D5 L2) Getafe W3 D4 L3 (Away W5 D3 L9)
Levante UD (20th) - RCD Espanyol (9th)
Espanyol were 1-0 winners when these two sides last met
Levante W3 D0 L7 (Home WD D3 L9) Espanyol W2 D2 L6 (Away W5 D5 L7)
Athletic Club Bilbao (11th) - RCD Mallorca (10th)
The match finished 0-0 when these two sides met earlier in the season
Athletic Bilbao W5 D2 L3 (Home W7 D7 L3) / Mallorca W5 D2 L3 (Away W4 D8 L5)
Real Racing Club (5th) - Real Murcia (19th)
Murcia were 2-1 winners when they met Racing earlier in the season
Racing W6 D0 L4 (Home W9 D3 L4) Murcia W2 D1 L7 (Away W1 D5 L11)
FC Barcelona (3rd) - Valencia CF (15th)
Unfortunately there will be no full preview of the match at the Camp Nou as usual: La Liga Review is busy showing a Danish TV crew the delights of the city before taking them to the game. Anything for a free lunch.
Suffice to say that we can't really get excited about this match either. Valencia must win to avoid getting dragged back down in to relegation trouble, of course, but perhaps the most interesting thing will be the reaction of the home fans towards their un-conquering heroes. It's going to be a funnya atmosphere at the Camp Nou tonight as the self proclaimed 'best fans in the world' show what great fans they are by whistling and jeering their team relentlessly for having had the audacity to lose a champions League semi final to Manchester United. Barcelona must win in order to challenge Villarreal for second place, and you can be sure that the home fans will play their part by getting on the player's backs from the first minute of the match.
Barcelona beat Valencia 3-0 at the Mestalla earlier in the season
Barcelona W2 D4 L4 (Home W13 D2 L2) / Valencia W2 D2 L6 (Away W7 D3 L7)
Barcelona have issued a communique staing that both Andres Iniesta and Gabi Milito will miss Sunday's game against Valencia and the next match, against Real Madrid. Toure will also miss Sunday's match with Valencia through injury.
Barcelona squad: Valdés, Pinto, Zambrotta, Oleguer, Thuram, Puyol, Abidal, Sylvinho, Xavi, Márquez, Edmílson, Deco, Gudjohnsen, Messi, Bojan, Etòo, Henry & Gio.
CA Osasuna (17th) - Real Madrid (1st)
Real Madrid were forced to wait another week before they could start hurling themselves into a big fountain in the centre of Madrid following Villarreal's victory last weekend, but the destiny of the title is now firmly in their own hands heading into Sunday's game at Osasuna.
With a 10-point advantage over second-placed Villarreal and just four games remaining, Madrid are safe in the knowledge that regardless of what happens elsewhere they will be crowned La Liga champions with a win in Pamplona.
It is also possible that Madrid will take the crown without even kicking a ball if Villarreal fail to beat Getafe earlier this evening, and while Iker Casillas admits winning the title is the priority, the Madrid keeper would prefer for them to cross the finish line themselves with a win over Osasuna.
"There is a strong chance we may win before the game takes place, but it is always more exciting to win on the pitch. The important thing is to win it, no matter how," said Casillas.
"It seems we will win the title on Sunday, but we have to be patient and wait. We are only thinking about winning the game." added the Madrid keeper.
It seems we will win the title on Sunday!? - the way this season has gone, don't be surprised if Villarreal win and Real lose then.
It certainly won't be easy for Schuster's side up in Pamplona. Osasuna are fighting for their lives after having lost three of their last four matches. That bad run of form has left Jose Angel Ziganda's side in 18th place in the league, one point away from safety.
Osasuna were unlucky to have lost 3-0 at Valencia last weekend, when goalkeeper Ricardo was sent off after just 17 minutes for an innocuous challenge on David Villa, who scored from the resulting penalty. The Valencia forward is now being strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid this week.
Real Madrid usually receive a pretty hostile welcome whenever they visit the Kingdom of Navarre stadium, but that didn't stop them running out as 4-1 winners there last season, with Ruud Van Nistelrooy scoring all four goals for Madrid. The Dutch striker has been missing for six weeks after undergoing surgery on his ankle, but returned to training recently and may play a part on Sunday.
Real Madrid were 2-0 winners when they last met Osasuna in La Liga earlier in the season.
Osasuna W4 D2 L4 (Home W7 D4 L6) / Real Madrid W6 D1 L3 (W9 D3 L5)
Ruud Van Nistelrooy may play a part in the match and Fabio Cannavaro returns from suspension. Christoph Metzelder remains sidelined for Madrid.
For Osasuna, Ricardo's red card has been rescinded and he will be able to take part, but Juanfran is suspended. Ludovic Delporte and Xavier Margairaz miss out through injury.