After this week’s Champions League semi-final defeat to Juventus, Real Madrid will be desperate to get their faltering league campaign back on track when they face Malaga on Sunday.
Madrid lie a point behind joint leaders Deportivo La Coruna and Real Sociedad with five matches remaining and failure to recapture the title they last won in 2001, would mark a low point in coach Vicente Del Bosque’s spell in charge. It may even jeopardise Del Bosque’s position at the club.
Dell Bosque’s battered troops retrun to the Bernabeu on Sunday, with doubts over the fitness of Ronaldo. The Brazilian appeared as a second-half substitute against Juventus, apparently against the advice of the club’s doctor and thereare fears that he may be out for up to a fortnight.
La Liga leaders Deportivo de La Coruna have the toughest assignment of the leading trio this weekend when they take on reigning champions Valencia on Saturday. Rafael Benitez’s side are equally desperate for the points as they pursue a place in the Champions League. Currently, Valencia lie 5th a point behind Celta Vigo who occupy the final Champions League place.
The contrast in form between Depor and Valencia could not be more stark. While Valencia have won just two of their last ten matches, Javier Irureta’smen have been on a roll, winning eight.
On Sunday, Sociedad face relegation threatened Recreativo de Huelva in a fixture whichmay give them an opportunity to improve their goal difference.
Near the foot of the table, Osasuna have a great chance to leapfrog their fellow strugglers Recreativo when they host mid-table Real Betis. A win or a draw combined with a defeat for Recreativo at Sociedad, would lift Osasuna move up the table.
Equally, Alaves, who have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, will hope to upset Athletic Bilbao as they continue their battle against the drop. For Bilbao, defeat could be costly as they scrap it out for a UEFA Cup spot with the likes of Barcelona and Mallorca, who, coincidentally, meet each other at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
D Coruna v Valencia
Sunday 18th May
Sevilla v R Vallecano
Villarreal v Celta Vigo
Real Madrid v Malaga
Barcelona v Mallorca