Big guns ready to fire as Spanish league reaches halfway point

January 17, 2015 2:56 am 

MADRID, Jan. 16 — The Spanish football season reaches its halfway point this coming weekend with a round of matches which could provide important tests for the top three in the table.

Due to their various King's Cup commitments Real Madrid, FC Barcelona nor Atletico Madrid all play their matches on Sunday.

Real Madrid make the short trip south of the capital to face a Getafe side which needs points in order to put some space between them and the relegation zone.

The arrival of Quique Sanchez Flores to replace Cosmin Contra has so far failed to kick start Getafe's season, although they did qualify for the last eight of the Cup on Wednesday with a scrappy win at home to Almeria.

Iker Casillas will return in goal for Real Madrid , who will look to overcome the disappointment of their Cup exit to neighbors Atletico, while Pepe will be out of action for two or three weeks with a rib injury.

Barcelona travel to the far northwest of Spain where they play Deportivo la Coruna. Luis Enrique was able to rest key players in his side's easy Cup win on Thursday, so tiredness shouldn't be a factor for Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and company.

The Barca coach will be hoping his side can reach the impressive heights of last weekend's 3-1 win at home to Atletico Madrid where in the face of recent criticism they looked hungry and motivated.

A repeat of that performance should silence the alarm bells for some time, but a repeat of the display that saw them lose to Real Sociedad a week earlier, would plunge the club back into crisis.

Atletico Madrid, fresh from knocking Real out of the Cup, will look at their home match against Granada and see it as a chance to maybe make up some of the ground they lost a week ago.

At the bottom of the table, Granada crashed out of the Cup on Wednesday as they have not won since early September and their disastrous run of results will almost certainly cost coach Joaquin Caparros his job if they fail to take something from the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

There is plenty of football to be played before the big three are in action on a weekend that kicks off on Friday when an improving Cordoba entertain Eibar, who continue to be the surprise package of the season.

Saturday sees Real Sociedad, who are gradually improving under David Moyes, at home to Rayo Vallecano, who are capable of anything and everything, but who seldom fail to entertain.

Valencia will look to recover from the shock of their Cup exit at the hands of Espanyol when they face Almeria, who have recovered somewhat under coach Juan Ignacio Martinez.

Villarreal are another side enjoying a good season and will hope to take advantage of Athletic Club Bilbao's inexplicable loss of form and confidence in order to pressure for a top four spot, before the day ends with a game between Espanyol and Celta, who need a win to leave fears of relegation behind them.

The weekend ends on Sunday with a relegation battle between Elche and Levante, while Seville and Malaga play a local derby between two sides aiming to qualify for Europe competition this season. (PNA/Xinhua)

RMA/RSM

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