Cristiano Ronaldo out
Real Madrid will be without their talismanic goal scorer Cristiano Ronaldo when they visit
Santander on Sunday, The Portuguese forward, who will be out for 10 days with a muscle strain, has
scored 20 more goals than the next leading scorer for Madrid -the injured Higuain- and the pressure
will be on the Madrid team, who have scored just twice in their last four away games, to avoid a
repeat of last week’s goalless draw in La Coru˝a.
With Barša again playing on Saturday night, Real Madrid could once more be 10 points behind when
they face Racing in Santander on Sunday night, whilst Valencia will be looking to bounce back from
defeat to Guardiola’s team when they open the weekend’s proceedings in Mallorca. Bilbao
travel to Seville and Atletico Madrid are at home to Villarreal in two games that may play a big
part in the European placings at the end of the season, whilst Espanyol travel to the in-form
Seville and Bilbao battle for sixth spot
It’s sixth against seventh at the San Mames on Sunday when Seville and Athletic Bilbao,
level on 38 points face off in the fight for a UEFA spot. Although they have lost their last three
games –away to Barša and Zaragoza and at home to Valencia, Bilbao were on a good run before
that and midfielder Carlos Gurpegui believes: “it’s vital to beat Seville and to get
that winning sensation back – this is the right time to break our bad run”. The stats
are against the Basques though, who have lost five of the last six games against Seville in Bilbao.
Garrido in the stands again
Atletico Madrid are eighth, three points behind Seville, but they will face a tough task on
Saturday when Villarreal visit the Vicente Calderon. Villarreal broke a run of poor results in
midweek beating Hercules with their boss Juan Carlos Garrido serving the first game of a two match
touchline ban and he’ll be out again on Saturday, though he reckons: “a coach always
wants to be on the bench, giving instructions -now I’ll have to do that by phone from the
stands, but the positive side is that I guess I can see the game better from up there!”.
Tale of two runs
Only Barša, with 16 points, have a better record over the last six games than Llevant who
have taken 13, including maximum points from their last three home matches. In contrast, Espanyol
who visit them on Sunday, have won just one from their last six and lost their last two on the road
against Osasuna and Almeria. Llevant are sweating on the fitness of their top scorer Caicedo,
whilst Verdu and Rui Fonte have been added to Espanyol’s long injury list.
Crunch games at the foot of the table
At the bottom, Almeria travel to Hercules knowing that a win could take them past the
Alicante team, whilst Osasuna, still without an away win all season visit Malaga in another
six-pointer. Sporting, third from bottom face Getafe at El Molinon, where they are unbeaten in
their last three and with Zaragoza up against Barša, the other team in the relegation fight,
Deportivo, are at home to Real Sociedad on Monday night.