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30.01.2010 11:41

Spanish League Preview Week 20

As the second half of the season kicks off, Barça again have the chance to put 8 points between them and Madrid who kick off a couple of hours after Guardiola’s team start in Gijon. Seville and Valencia face each other on Sunday.

Real Madrid have been trying all week to get Ronaldo’s red card and suspension rescinded but to no avail as the Spanish football authorities stood firm by their original two game ban and the controversial Portuguese striker has not travelled to La Coruña for Saturday’s game against fifth placed Deportivo. As well as Pepe, Van der Vaart, Lass and Garay, Higuain is still out for Real, who will be trying to win at the Riazor for the first time in 20 years. Deportivo will need to lift themselves after their midweek cup knock out and the appalling injury to Brazilian full back Filipe Luis and their boss Lotina admits: “we’re not playing at our best, we’ve lost a bit of spark” though he reckons “Madrid have the obligation to win”.

“Almost like a final” for Seville

SEVILLA_1.jpgThird place Valencia travel to Seville, six points adrift in sixth spot, in a game the home team need to win if they are to keep viable their hopes of a top four finish and the Valencia keeper Cesar reckons: “it’s a game with a lot of rivalry involved. They have to go out for a win as it’s almost like a final for them with the distance in points between us, but we just need to maintain our calm”. Like Deportivo, Mallorca also went out of the cup in midweek, winning in Getafe but going out on aggregate, and they have a chance to make up for that and consolidate their fourth spot on Sunday when they travel to Jerez , whose boss Néstor Raúl Gorosito reckons Mallorca "may be in a good position, they are not quite as strong this weekend and they don’t play as well away as they do at home” – optimistic words from a team who won just one game out of ten in the first half of the campaign.

Six-pointer in Tenerife

tenerife-deportfora.jpgThe other two teams down in the relegation spots, Tenerife and Zaragoza meet in the Canary Islands. Tenerife only lost three times at home in the first part of the season, against Deportivo, Seville and Barca, whilst Zaragoza, who’ve invested heavily in the winter transfer market, have the worst away record in the league and have taken just two points on the road. Fellow strugglers Valladolid entertain Almeria, whilst two of the league’s in-form teams, Malaga and Atletico Madrid play at the Vicente Calderon. Quique Sanchez Flores’ team booked a place in the cup semi finals with a midweek win at Celta Vigo to round off a month that’s seen them win six out of eight games, scoring 16 goals and lifting themselves out of the lower reaches. It’s been a slightly less spectacular month for Malaga, whose defeat against Real Madrid last week was their first in 11 league games, after going out to Getafe in the cup earlier in January, but their boss Juan Ramon Muñiz insists: “we’re going to the Calderon to win!”

Cup Final rehearsal?

AS181109VR06.jpgRacing and Getafe are both through to the Cup semi finals and could well meet in the final in May, but first they face each other at the Alfonso Perez on Sunday. A win for Michel’s team could take them above Seville, whilst Racing, who’ve dropped just one point in their four January league games so far, have the third best away record in the league, having only lost at Real Madrid, Mallorca and Villarreal. Ernesto Valverde’s team had a roller coaster first half to the season and the Basque boss will be looking to start off a more successful second half when his team take on Osasuna at the Madrigal, though he warned: “Osasuna are a tough team to play against. They are always on top of you and their defeat in the Cup means they can just concentrate on the league”.
Spanish League Preview Week 20

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