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19.12.2009 11:37

Spanish League Preview Week 15


With the leaders Barca busy in the Emirates this weekend, attention in La Liga switches to the struggle at the bottom of the table and the fight for European places in the final weekend's games before the Christmas break.

Deportivo, Valencia and Mallorca fight for top four spot

Sixth place Deportivo will have the chance to finish the year in a Champions League spot if they can defeat fourth placed Valencia at the Riazor on Sunday. Deportivo striker Mista, ex-Valencia himself, insists: “the numbers are clear – Valencia are two points ahead of us. We've never been favourites for a top four spot, which puts pressure on them and means we can be more relaxed about the situation”.

Fifth placed Mallorca may well beat both teams to a Champions League berth at Christmas as they travel to struggling Malaga on Sunday. Seville have drawn their last two home games and are now just a couple of points ahead of Valencia, so they will be looking to get back to winning ways when they close the year against Getafe, themselves on the edges of a UEFA spot in eighth place.

Injury-hit Madrid

Second placed Madrid, meanwhile, close their year at home to Zaragoza, whose new boss Jose Aurelio Gay makes his debut with the third from bottom team who've won just one game in their last nine matches. Madrid will be without the injured Pepe, out for the rest of the season with knee ligaments, Xabi Alonso, Kaka, Guti and Van Nistelroy, with Albiol also doubtful.

Espanyol in relegation battle

Should Zaragoza shock Madrid, Espanyol, currently just a point above them, could spend their Christmas holidays in the relegation zone. Espanyol have not scored in the league since November 1st and are the league's second lowest scoring team with just 8 in 14 games. Their dramatic dip in form has seen them lose their last five games on the run and boss Pochetino knows he needs to start improving when his team face fellow strugglers Almeria in Cornella on Sunday.

Racing, Atletico Madrid and Valladolid are tied with Almeria and Espanyol on 13 points and whilst Racing will be buoyed by two wins in their last two games, they face a tough trip to the improving Villarreal, whilst Valladolid host Sporting and Atletico travel to Tenerife.

Basque derby in Bilbao

With Real Sociedad and Alaves down in the second division, there's only two Basque derbies a year at the moment and Bilbao and Osasuna, who meet at San Mames on Saturday night, both go into the first of the year in relative comfort, with Bilbao doing well in Europe and lying 7th and Osasuna enjoying some welcome mid-table comfort.

Spanish League Preview Week 15

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