La Liga Week 16 Preview: Barcelona to beat Valencia, Real Madrid to thrash Osasuna

If the Spanish press is to be believed, then Valencia are in a crisis that is rumbling onto become a full-blown disaster. Valencia haven’t won in 3 La Liga matches and this weekend they stumble across an in-form FC Barcelona side that has commenced to gather momentum. A defeat at the Mestalla on Saturday night and the Los Che would be lost at sea for good.

Ronald Koeman’s side is already 10 points off the pace and are outside the UEFA Cup spots at the moment and any slip-ups on Saturday would push into the mediocrity of the mid-table. Koeman’s side failed to wrestle a UEFA Cup berth for this season in midweek but now that Valencia wouldn’t have to bother about European commitments for the remainder of the season, perhaps this could just work in favor of Valencia. But Barcelona are riding high with Samuel Eto’o already back banging in goals after more than 3 months out with injury on the sidelines and Ronaldinho also contributing positively to the mix. The other game on Saturday is between highflying Espanyol Barcelona in fifth and rock bottom Levante who have collected just 7 points so far this season.

Reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid are yet to find the galacticos football but they are winning alright. They have won their last three matches in all competitions and reside at the summit of the Spanish league with 35 points from 15 matches, 4 clear of their nearest challengers Barca. Raul has been in excellent form this season and so has Ruud van Nistelrooy and the duo is expected to gel once more as Bernd Schuster’s Real Madrid side welcome low lying Osasuna to the Bernabeu. Osasuna are just 3 points above safety in 14th.

Atletico Madrid have been banging goals left, right and center and as demonstrated in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Getafe at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, when Atleti cannot entertain through goals, they do so by invoking red. A total of 18 cards were dished out in the match with both teams getting two players sent off. So you can expect goals and maybe even a few cards as Aguero, Forlan, Maxi and co travel to Recreativo de Huelva on Sunday. Atletico are third and are just 1 point behind Barcelona while Villarreal are fourth, 1 point further off, Manuel Pellegrini’s side hasn’t won in their last two league matches and are on the road to Getafe this weekend. Racing Santander in sixth travel to Real Murcia who are just 1 place and 1 point beyond the relegation zone.

The bottom three sides all have tough opposition this weekend. While rock bottom Levante are away to Espanyol on Sunday, both Deportivo la Coruna and Real Betis have home fixtures. Second from bottom Depor with 13 points host mid table Real Zaragoza while Betis on 14 points entertain promoted side Almeria who lie 11th in the table.

Athlecti de Bilbao have had a pretty much non-eventful season so far this time around and have been much better than they were at the end of last season. Yet Joaquin Caparros’s side is not safe from a relgation dogfight. Athletic are 15th in the table and more importantly just 3 points better off than Betis. That distance could be timed this weekend when Athletic face Real Mallorca at Son Moix; Mallorca are in the top half of the table with 20points.

The remaining match in La Liga this weekend takes place at the Jose Zorrilla where promoted side Valladolid in 16th host 9th placed Sevilla FC.

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