La Liga Week 32: A Preview

La Liga intrudes into Week 32 this weekend but don’t elevate your hopes too high this time either. La Liga is far from Hay Liga as they say in Spain and there is a distinct possibility that after this weekend’s round of matches in the Spanish first division, things could deteriorate even further.

League leaders Real Madrid got away with a 1-1 draw with Real Mallorca last weekend and actually increased their lead by 1 point to 7 points after both their supposed title challengers FC Barcelona and Villarreal failed to gather maximum points. This week the reigning Spanish champions welcome second from bottom Real Murcia at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday and the Merengues ought to win. Murcia coach Javier Clemente flared up speculation earlier in the week by blatantly consigning the Madrid fans as the most stupid in the whole of Spain and further affirmed that his team would defend and defend and defend at the Bernabeu.

In any case Real should clinch all 3 points against Murica at home and second place Barcelona need to do something similar to sustain their challenge for the championship when they travel to fourth from bottom Recreativo de Huelva on Saturday. Barca consolidated a semi-final berth in the UEFA Champions League in midweek by beating Schalke 04 at home and should be favourites to win away at Recre.

Third place Villarreal, level on points with Barca, are also on their travels this weekend: the Yellow Submarine take a trip to midtable Almeria but need t bounce back from their last week’s 2-0 defeat to Sevilla FC. Manuel Pellegrini’s side are now in La Liga title chase but they have to pick up points from now on to cling onto their first ever La Liga title hopes.

Atletico Madrid occupy the fourth and final Champions League place in the table, 6 points behind Villarreal and take a trip to relegation strugglers Real Valladolid. Last week Atleti thrashed Almeria 6-3 at the Vicente Calderon and now have a 3 point advantage over fifth place Racing Santander. Racing too are away from home this weekend; they visit the Mestalla on Saturday where they play Valencia. Valencia have lost their last two La Liga matches and coach Ronald Koeman has started to point fingers at his seniors in the Valencia unit in order to wriggle himself out of the reach of the blade that is ever so glistening at his neck. Top players such as David Villa and David Silva have come under intense transfer speculation this week as relegation to the Segunda Division is still a dreaded possibility although not a probability. Los Che lie just 6 points above the dropzone but retain the prospect of playing UEFA Cup football next season-they play Getafe in the Copa Del Rey final next week.

Getafe meanwhile too harbour relegation apprehensions—Michael Laudrup’s side narrowly lost to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup on Thursday and are 12th in the table 7 points above safety. Getafe do tend to play cohesive football built on a solid backline augmented by an attacking midfield and should be ore than a match for Real Zaragoza at home on Sunday. Zaragoza are 18th in the league standings have won in their last 5 and even more worrying have won no matches in their last 5 away games; los Manus even drafted in a psychologist to lift the morale of the players earlier in the week. Rock bottom Levante travel to Andalucia to play Real Betis who are steadily climbing into mid-table modesty.

Regional pride is at stake at the Riazor where Galician side Deportivo la Coruna host Basque giants Athletic de Bilbao. Depor are 7 points above the bottom three in 13th while Bilbao are 8th with 43 points but both are more or less safe from the drop this season even when considering the dense traffic in the Spanish league table.

In other matches in La Liga this weekend, increasingly degenerating Espanyol Barcelona in 7th entertain 16th place Osasuna at the Olimpique de Montjuic and 6th place Sevilla, rocked by Daniel Alves revelation that he has agree personal terms with Barcelona, would be looking forward to trimming the gap between themselves and Atletico Madrid when they travel to Real Mallorca.

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