Llevant’s astonishing turnaround has come after five wins in the last seven games and they are currently 12th, just three points behind Mallorca who they entertain on Sunday. Espanyol’s form, in contrast has been terrible and having been beaten by Llevant last week they have to get a result at home to Deportivo to stay in the race for European football next year. Bilbao, away to Getafe on Monday and Atletico Madrid, who open the weekend’s games away to Almeria are the other two teams, alongside Seville, who look to be in the fight for the three UEFA spots.
Llevant “not safe yet”
It’s still very tight in the bottom half of the table and Llevant are only five points clear of the drop zone –causing their boss Luis Garcia to warn: “anyone who thinks we are safe is kidding themselves”. The team will be boosted by the news that their 11 goal striker Caicedo will be available for the trip after missing training this week with a knee injury. Racing are a point behind Llevant and Deportivo and they travel to Pamplona on Sunday. The Santander club was recently purchased by the Indian tycoon Ashan Ali Syed and the Osasuna President Patxi Izco reckons: “it’s bizarre that anyone would invest in a football club. I can see no sense in it – you put money in and get nothing out”. Izco’s team are a point behind Racing, but unbeaten in two, whilst Racing have gone three games without a win.
Time for Valencia to concentrate on La Liga
Sporting and Zaragoza are the two teams below Osasuna and they face the third and fourth placed Valencia and Villarreal this weekend. Valencia suffered Champions League defeat against Schalke 04 on Wednesday and they must now focus on ensuring third place, starting with a result against Zaragoza, a team who have though, lost just once in their last six games at home. Valencia currently sit four points clear of Villarreal, who got a much better result in Germany on Thursday, beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 and are at home to Sporting on Sunday.
Atletico after consistency to confirm European hopes
Atletico Madrid’s win over Villarreal last weekend re-launched their European hopes for the umpteenth time and they must consolidate that with a win against Almeria in Saturday’s first game of the weekend. Second from bottom Almeria have actually never lost at home to Atletico in La Liga and they will be boosted by last weekend’s win over Hercules – who are now third from bottom, a point ahead of them, one win in nine, one goal in their last four games- and facing a trip to the Bernabeu on Saturday. A win for Atletico would take them momentarily into fifth and put the pressure on Espanyol and Bilbao. Espanyol play Deportivo on Sunday with Sergio Garcia and Javi Marquez the latest injuries worries for Pochettino’s decimated squad. Bilbao play on Monday night at Getafe, a team who’ve managed just one win in the 12 games they’ve played in 2011. Bottom club Malaga, meanwhile travel to Donosti to face Real Sociedad, who have Raul Tamudo back from injury.