|Football Bettor's Survey|
Now that Real Madrid are out of the Spanish Cup and the Champions League, their only shot for glory this season would be to top the league. Bernd Schuster's team have to put the CL loss at home to Roma behind them and focus on the upcoming match with Espanyol.
Great teams are usually able to pick themselves up fairly quickly following setbacks. However, their alarming loss of form – Madrid have lost five of their last 7 matches in all competitions – is a cause for concern.
Fortunately for the Bernabeau boys, Espanyol have an equally poor recent form record – they have lost 7 of their last 9 games.
However, their influential skipper Raul Tamudo could make his return from injury this weekend. A pity playmaker Ivan de la Pena is out with a leg injury or Espanyol might play even more inspired.
Atletico Madrid, high on confidence after their win over Barcelona, could very well send Zaragoza into the relegation zone on Saturday if they continue in this vein.
Defeat at home to Atletico will leave Zaragoza dependent on results elsewhere to determine if they are mired right in the relegation places. Zaragoza's recent form just does not reflect their class and stated objectives at the beginning of the season.
This match will provide strong motivation for the home side to compromise Atletico's suspect defence. And with Atletico's strikers on form, we could see quite a few goals here.
Heartbroken Sevilla, haunted by a series of 3-2 results (even the penalty shootout ended 3-2) which eventually ended in their exit from the Champions League, will probably be fighting low morale and fatigue (120 minutes of frantic football with Fenerbahce).
They face bottom side Levante who are starting to show some belief in themselves, as evidenced by recent match results. Levante will be clawing away at the ten points that separate them from Primera survival although their away record is dismal with 4 points from a possible 36.
Surprise package Almeria, meanwhile, head north with the hope of punishing struggling Osasuna.
This is, of course, Almeria's first season in the top flight, but that's not stopped them from battling up to a highly respectable 8th place.
Osasuna, once upon a time a couple of seasons ago, were capable of even better placings, but now they're more apt to battle against relegation.
he Pamplonans, however, are back on home soil after a draw at Villarreal last week, and the partisan Navarre crowd has certainly helped them this season more than last.
Valladolid, meanwhile, are back in the top flight, and Athletic had better beware.
For although the Basques have far greater pedigree in the Primera, they have amazingly failed to beat the Pucela in the last eight meetings between the sides.
Still, Athletic won't let head-to-head history put them off. However, the hosts have both Exteberria and Yeste suspended for this one, and are one point behind their visitors...
Next up, Racing prepare to continue their UEFA/Intertoto challenge with a visit from on-form Betis.
The Santander men have gone off the boil just slightly of late, but they remain incredibly tough to beat at home, with the joint-second best defensive record on their own turf in the whole Liga.
Betis, however, fear nobody after embarking on a fine run under recently-appointed boss Paco Chaparro. From relegation makeweights to mid-table hoverers, it's a certain improvement for them.
However, 11th place can be deceptive, as they're still just three points into the safety zone.
Murcia would love to be in that position. Ill-fortune and a decline in their own standards has seen them slip to 19th place, seven points behind safety.
Amazingly, they're just four points ahead of Levante, too, and that's clearly not good enough. Can new coach Javier Clemente turn it around?
Geta, meanwhile, have recovered from their own relegation woes to climb up to the top half, albeit with a few scrapes along the way. Tiredness could be a factor for them here, though, after their UEFA Cup heroics in Lisbon against Benfica.
Mallorca, meanwhile, managed to fight back for a valuable draw against Geta last season, but need to get some wins on the board.
They'll be hopeful of doing so against Recre, who have both Beto and - of course - Quique Alvarez suspended after their rigours of Real Madrid last week.
The Barralets are on 31 points; a win for Recre will see them leapfrog their hosts, although the Huelvans have never won a top-level game against Mallorca.
Valencia, meanwhile, have their pseudo-derby for he early evening game. It's going to be a tough one - Los Che have no fewer than three players suspended, and of course their requisite off-pitch problems.
Los Che are firmly mid-table, which Depor will be envious of, but coach Koeman will still demand victory of his charges.
Miguel Angel Lotina, meanwhile, is riding the crest of a wave of popularity after pulling his side out of the relegation zone for the first time in living memory.
Still, they're just one point into safety, and can't rest on their laurels.
Nor, for that matter, can Barcelona.
The blaugrana toyed with Celtic sufficiently to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League - the only Spanish side to do so - and after a period of rest will welcome the Yellow Submarine to Camp Nou.
They'll be without Lionel Messi, of course, which may have Villarreal fancying their chances. However, the free-scoring form of the early season has deserted Manuel Pellegrini's side of late, and recovering it here could well be difficult.
I've been a member since July 2003, maybe one of the first to join the Silver Circle. 2004 was a good year but I really enjoyed the long run we had in, I think, July 2005. It was exhilarating! 2006-2007 was not as exciting although still quite profitable and so far 2007-2008 looks quite good. I'm wondering if we're going to hit a long one again soon. Anyway, it's been a pleasure as always with your service, Greg. Armstrong and you are one of the few people I trust on the internet. You have made my retirement so much more fun and financially happy!
Best Wishes, Trent Wrayford, Sidney