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Spanish League Preview Week 13

With the top three all in action on Saturday, attention will switch to the fight for UEFA spots and the struggle at the bottom on Sunday. Levant host Sporting, in-form Bilbao are at home to Granada, the stuttering Seville are at Zaragoza and Espanyol are at the Cornella-El Prat Stadium against Osasuna. Bottom club Racing are in another basement clash, when they visit Mallorca, Real Sociedad (2 points from their last 8 games) are at Betis (1 point out of their last 8) in the Sunday lunchtime fixture and on Monday Villarreal are at Malaga.

Falcao out of derby

Real Madrid were favourites for the derby game on Saturday anyway, but the injury to Atletico’s Falcao is a further blow to Manzano’s team’s hopes, though Mourinho is trying to avoid any euphoria in his squad: “I’d take a 1-0 or a 2-1 win. In a derby game anything can happen”. Valencia will also fancy their chances of taking three points from the Spanish capital when they visit Rayo Vallecano, who have shown a lack of consistency at home, with 2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw. Emery’s team will travel with their morale boosted by their 7-0 European win in midweek. Striker Roberto Soldado is on fire right now, as his hat trick on Wednesday showed, and Rayo boss José Ramón Sandoval is clear that: “it’s fundamental that we stop the balls getting to him”.

In-form Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao have recovered from a poor start under Marcelo Bielsa and on Sunday they will expect to maintain their great run when they entertain Granada – whose abandoned game against Mallorca will be restarted behind closed doors. The Basques face a relatively easy run in to Christmas, playing against four of the bottom five teams, whilst the other sides chasing the top three all play Valencia, Real Madrid or Barça. In contrast to Bilbao, Llevant, who are at home to Sporting, made a great start, but have now lost their last three – with midfielder Juanlu forced to remind fans: “our objective for this season has always been to avoid the drop. We need a win against Sporting in order to help us get to the 43 points everyone reckons will be enough”.

Stuttering Seville at Zaragoza

Seville’s defeat to Bilbao last week means they have won just once in their last seven games and although on paper they will be favourites at struggling Zaragoza, Javier Aguirre’s team have only lost once at home since their opening day thrashing by Real Madrid – and that was a 0-1 defeat to Valencia. Espanyol are level on 17 points with Bilbao and one behind Seville, as they go into their game at the Cornella- El Prat Stadium against mid-table Osasuna, who have yet to win on the road this season. Malaga are two points ahead of Seville and on Monday night, Santi Cazorla will get a chance to face his ex-team Villarreal at La Rosaleda.

At the bottom of the table, Racing(9 points) are at Mallorca(10) and Real Sociedad(9) travel to Betis(13).