Week 27 of La Liga will see a number of close contests with Mallorca welcoming Valencia to the Iberostar on Saturday, Atlético Madrid taking on Villarreal at the Vicente Calderón, and Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla facing off at the Cathedral, San Mamés.  Leaders Barcelona are back at home and will welcome struggling Zaragoza while, rivals Real Madrid travel to Santander to face Racing in the stadium shaped like a sardine can.

Mallorca vs Valencia

After finally losing their 12 games undefeated streak in league to Barcelona on Wednesday, Valencia will travel to Palma de Mallorca where they will face off against Michael Laudrup’s Mallorca.  The Islanders travelled to Barcelona on Tuesday where they came from behind to defeat Espanyol at the Cornella El Pratt.  Valencia’s last two trips to the Island ended in defeat.  Additionally, Valencia hasn’t beaten Mallorca in the last four league games.  However, in spite of recent results, Los Che have done fairly well for themselves at the Iberostar winning 12 and drawing four of their 26 games played there.  Mallorca are doing fairly well for themselves in league this season despite their financial struggles, which led to them losing some key players during the summer transfer window and are sitting in tenth on 34 points.  Although the visitors lost to Barcelona mid-week, they remain in third with a point advantage over the Yellow Submarines. In the first half of the season, Mallorca travelled to the Mestalla and came away with a 2-1 victory- Castro with a brace for Los BermellonesLos Che may be without Maduro and Joaquín who are both injured.  However, they received some good news following the return of Aduriz and Albelda to training on Thursday.  There have been no fresh report of injuries from the Mallorca camp.

Barcelona vs Real Zaragoza

Barcelona are back at home in the Camp Nou and will welcome Zaragoza.  The team from Aragon defeated Athletic Bilbao at home which saw Ikechukwu Uche score on his return from a long-term knee injury.  The Blaugrana on the other hand, earned a narrow win in the Mestalla against Valencia courtesy of a late Messi goal.  Real Zaragoza has a deplorable record at the Camp Nou having only ever won TWO league games there.  However, they have won six in all competitions, drawn 11 and lost 45 of 62 games in the Camp Nou.  Barcelona are hoping to extend their lead over second place Real Madrid, who will play on Sunday evening, to ten points.  This game will act as a “tune-up” for the home side who will probably have one eye on their Round of 16 Champions League 2nd leg show down with Arsenal on Tuesday.  The away side’s only injury concern is that of Boutahar who has been ruled out of the squad for the trip to Barcelona.  The home team welcomed Puyol back to training on Thursday; however, Valdes is still in the infirmary.  Coach Pep was reported as having a herniated disc and was hospitalized following their game against Valencia on Wednesday; it is unclear as to whether or not he will be on the bench for Saturday’s match.

Atlético Madrid vs Villarreal

Atlético Madrid will welcome Villarreal to the Vicente Calderón in Saturday’s final game.  Los Colchoneros drew with Getafe mid-week and have now won only two of their last 13 games.  Villarreal on the other hand, ended their run of four league games without a win when they defeated Hércules at El Madrigal 1-0 on Wednesday.  Looking at the previous results between the two at the Calderón, Atlético Madrid seem the more likely to come away with all three points since they have won five of the nine league games played at home.  However, Villarreal’s last trip to the Vicente Calderón ended in a 2-1 victory for the Yellow Submarines- Fuster and Joseba Llorente scoring for the away side. A win for the away side could see them climb back into third depending on what the outcome is in Valencia’s game.  Quique Sánchez Flores is currently being heavily criticized for his team’s poor form over the past couple months and a win would be a great way to “stick it” to his critics and reaffirm his side’s intent on finishing in a European Cup spot for next season.  The home side on Thursday saw the return of Ujfaluši to training without any limitations and should be available for Saturday’s game.  The away side has not made any new report of injury in their camp.

Sporting Gijón vs Getafe

Following their defeat in Seville, Sporting are back in the comfort of El Molinón where they will welcome Getafe on Sunday.  El Geta have only won ONE in their last TEN league games, losing five and drawing four.  While, Sporting has been win-less in their last five, losing twice during the period.  The visitors have picked up 13 of a possible 36 points from their away fixtures this season and are the league’s 7th best road team whilst Sporting are the league’s third worst home team winning a mere four games in El Molinón, collecting a total of 17 points from a possible 39.  Getafe has only ever beaten the Sportinguistas at home twice, drawing one and losing three.  Sporting are pending the result of the FA’s decision on the red card Eguren received against Sevilla; if it is rescinded then he will be available to Preciado on Sunday, however, if only reduced to a yellow he will still have to sit out the game since he had four yellow cards prior to the Sevilla match.  Both Cuellar and Carmelo did not train with the squad on Thursday but is expected to return on Friday and should be available for Sunday.  Pablo Pintos is the only injury concern for El Geta who suffered an ankle injury.

Levante vs Espanyol

Levante came away with a draw against Real Sociedad on Wednesday and are back at the Ciutat de Valencia, where they will welcome Espanyol on Sunday.  Los Periquitos are coming off a devastating loss to Mallorca at home mid-week and will be seeking to bounce back against Levante.  However, away games have been the Parakeets‘ achilles heel this season, losing eight of their thirteen road games and have now lost their last two games away from home.  The Granotes have now won three consecutive games at home and will be going for four when they face Sunday’s opponents.  When we look at the recent form of both teams from a home and away perspective, the home side will certainly have the conviction they can come away with all three points.  Larrea and Juanfran are the only two players reported as injured for the home side and are to undergo medical tests on Friday.  Javi Márquez returned to training for the Parakeets, however, he trained with some limitations as he was still feeling slight pains in his left ankle and it is still unknown whether or not he will be able to travel to Valencia with his teammates.  The same goes for Verdú, who finished the game against Real Sociedad with a contusion in his left leg and will be monitored over the coming days to see if he will be able to play on Sunday.  Rui Fonte is also doubtful for the away side.

Hércules vs Almería

Struggling Hércules will welcome prime relegation candidates Almería to the José Rico Pérez Stadium on Sunday in what should be a fierce battle as both teams are fighting for their first division lives.  Hércules fell victims to Villarreal at the El Madrigal on Wednesday afternoon, while Almería came from behind to secure a point against Racing on Thursday.  The home team are on a poor run of form and have won only twice in their last ten games, while the Andalucians have been win-less in their last four games.  The first meeting between both teams this season ended in a 1-1 draw.  The Herculanos hold a fairly good record against the visitors at home winning twice, drawing once and losing only once against the Andalucians.  There were no new reports of injury from the home side.  Almería, however, are expected to miss Piatti who went down with an injury to his right leg during the Racing game on Thursday and is awaiting further medical tests to determine the extent of the injury and the recovery period, but it is likely he will not feature for the visitors this Sunday.

Málaga vs Osasuna

After their embarrassing defeat at the Bernabéu on Thursday, Málaga will be back at La Rosaleda where they will welcome Osasuna.  Osasuna are coming off a 0-0 result against Deportivo La Coruña on Wednesday.  The home team has won only one in their last ten games and are 19th in the league.  Osasuna are the league’s worst road team and have only earned a total of two points from their 13 away games.  In addition to Los Rojillos‘ away form, they have only won once at La Rosaleda, that victory coming December 4, 2005.  Málaga will be without Manolo as he was sent off on Thursday night.  The visitors welcomed Aranda back to training on Thursday; however, Pandiani, Oier and Rúper were unable to join their teammates due to their respective injuries.

Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla

In one of the many tight contests taking place this weekend, Sevilla will travel to the Basque country where they will face Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés.  The visitors are currently undefeated in the last four games, while Los Leones have lost four on the trot.  While Sevilla holds a poor overall record at San Mamés, their most recent results have seen them come away with wins in six of their last ten games.  Sevilla have picked up four wins, two draws and six losses in their 12 away games this season and is the fifth best road team.  The team from Bilbao has been solid at home and has won nine of their 13 games in the Cathedral, losing the remaining four.  The last meeting at San Mamés ended in favour of the Andalucians in September 2009 when Kanouté, Renato, Negredo and Navas scored for Los Nervionenses.  Sergio Sánchez and Acosta were unable to train on Thursday as both players were injured.  Some good news for the Andalucians, however, as Palop, Koné and Dragutinović are recovering well from their respective injuries and were on the pitch this week.  There have been no reports of injury in the Bilbao camp.

Racing Santander vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid will travel to Santander where they will face a resurgent Racing team.  The Verdiblancos are undefeated in their last four games under new coach Marcelino, winning two and drawing two.  Real Madrid is the league’s second best away side earning 25 points from a possible 39.  Meanwhile, Racing has won five of their 12 home games but has only lost twice at home this season- to Barcelona and Getafe.  The Whites boast a three game undefeated record at El Sardinero, winning all three games by the same score line; 2-0.  The Verdiblancos has not beaten Real Madrid in the last seven fixtures- losing all seven, being outscored 17 goals to two.  The home side will be seeking revenge against Los Blancos for the heavy 6-1 thrashing they received at the Bernabéu in October.  Real Madrid will continue to be without Khedira and Higuaín, even though the latter returned to the pitch this week.  Pepe missed the mid-week match up against Málaga because he was sick with the flu but should be available for Sunday.  However, Garay is still questionable following his injury.  Ronaldo picked up a hamstring strain in the game on Thursday night and will be monitored over the coming days.  Other than the earlier reports of injuries to both Tziolis and Serrano, there are no additional injuries for Racing.

Deportivo La Coruña vs Real Sociedad

On Monday night Real Sociedad will make the trip to Galicia where they will play Deportivo in El Riazor.  Both teams are coming off a draw in their respective mid-week fixtures and are separated by ten points.  The home side is far too close to the bottom three for comfort, holding a three point edge over 18th place.  Real Sociedad, however, sits comfortably in ninth on 35 points and are in the hunt for a European Cup spot.  Real Sociedad has a bad record at the Riazor having only won five, drawn 10 and lost 20 of their 35 games there.  The home team is still struggling with the recent injuries that prevented Lotina from fielding his best 11 on Wednesday.  Real Sociedad has a few doubtful players going into the weekend as Zurutuza, Tamudo, Agirretxe and Aranburu have all been reported as injured.

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