There are also key games between seventh and eighth placed Seville and Espanyol, as well as tough home matches for the bottom two, Zaragoza and Sporting, against Getafe and Malaga.
Madrid face Mallorca
Real Madrid will have a day more than Barça to prepare for Wednesday’s Cup quarter final first leg, as they travel to Mallorca on Saturday evening . The Islanders are also through to the last eight of the Cup after their extraordinary demolition of Real Sociedad on Tuesday night (6-1) and their boss Joaquin Caparros insists: “we will try and play at a high level and with the essential element of good luck, which is always important –especially against a team like Madrid”.
Contrasting Cup fortunes
Real Sociedad themselves could well still be in shock after that defeat – they scored the first goal of the game which actually put them 3-0 up on aggregate before Mallorca overwhelmed them – and they face a tough game on Saturday night at third placed Valencia, who could close to within a point of Barça with a win. After losing 2-1 to Seville on Wednesday, but winning on the away goals rule, Valencia are through to the Cup quarter finals where they will face fourth placed Levante, who are themselves away to another Cup quarter finalist Bilbao on Sunday.
Osasuna look to forget Barça defeat
Osasuna will hope that Barça’s win in Pamplona on Thursday – the first home defeat for the Basques this season, will not set a trend as they face Racing who were themselves knocked out of the Cup midweek, but are are unbeaten in the league since November. Racing’s good form has taken them out of the bottom three and helped dumped Villarreal into the relegation spots. On Sunday lunchtime Villarreal travel to Atletico Madrid and with both teams having replaced their managers over Christmas, their fans will be expecting something better than the draws that were all either team could manage last week.
Crunch game for Zaragoza
Villarreal are just a point above Sporting, who face Malaga in Gijon on Sunday and whose manager Manolo Preciado insists, despite his team losing their last two games: “we can beat anybody on our day”. Sporting are five points clear of Zaragoza, who sacked their manager Javier Aguirre and replaced him with Manolo Jimenez over the holidays and with trips to Levant and Real Madrid coming up, they are desperately in need of a turnaround when they face Getafe in the weekend’s opening game,.
Granada and Rayo also kick off early on Saturday, as do Seville, who face another Cup quarter finalist Espanyol at the Sanchez Pijuan. Seville are level on 24 points with Espanyol and a win for either team would, momentarily at least take them above Osasuna into fifth place.