Another week in Spain finds us looking at the mid-table and the bottom of the league for interesting stories as things at the top have settled in to a calm status quo
There aren't any "flashy" games on the schedule but there are plenty of interesting match-ups that will help further define the race for European spots and who is in serious relegation danger.
Friday, January 18th
(21:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)
Nothing like kicking off the match week with a relegation six-pointer. Espanyol have been playing much better of late, pulling themselves a point clear of the drop zone. Mallorca really aren't very good but a win in this match would be a huge for them. If I had to pick, I'd go with Espanyol simply because I think they're a team that will ultimately avoid being relegated in May.
Saturday, January 19th
(16:00 CET, 10:00AM ET)
Granada continue to fight for the lives at the bottom of the table while Vallecano continues to over achieve as they sit in a European spot. Admit it, you're rooting for Vallecano to keep their good story rolling along...as you should be.
(18:00 CET, 12:00PM ET)
Barcelona looked quite poor in their mid-week Copa del Rey tie against Malaga and will likely turn their frustrations on Sociedad. Tito Vilanova is likely not happy with his team's performance and will demand better in this match.
(20:00 CET, 2:00PM ET)
Mid-table battle FTW! Neither side is amazing anyone at the moment but the arrival of Unai Emery as the new head coach at Sevilla makes this an interesting match. Perhaps we should tune in just to watch Emery on the touchline as it might be more entertaining that what happens between the lines.
Malaga vs. Celta Vigo
(22:00 CET, 4:00PM ET)
Malaga should be pretty happy with themselves after a solid performance against Barcelona in the Copa de Rey. It's the perfect springboard to get their league performance back on track after dropping out of a Champions League spot last week. Pretty straightforward game for the Anchovies that they should get full points from.
Sunday, January 20th
Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruna
(12:00 CET, 6:00AM ET)
If the team in 19th place plays the team in 20th place, will anyone actually care? We'll find out as two teams stuck in the relegation zone face off in a huge match for both of their top division futures. They are also two teams going in different directions of late. Deportivo has earned two straight positives results since, while Osasuna haven't won since November. Of course, Osasuna did hold Real Madrid to a scoreless draw last weekend so that should give them some confidence. Want to avoid being relegated? Win this game.
Real Valladolid vs. Real Zaragoza
(17:00 CET, 11:00AM ET)
More mid-table fun. Zaragoza could use some points to keep away from the relegation fray below them. Sorry but I'm just not excited about this one.
Atletico Madrid vs. Levante
(19:00 CET, 1:00PM ET)
Atleti are going to catch Barcelona at the top (baring a legendary meltdown) but they have a great chance of holding off their city rivals for second place. Levante should offer up a good test after they didn't play well at all against Betis last weekend. Juan Ignacio Martínez will be looking for his side to bounce back and stay in the European spot race.
Valencia vs. Real Madrid
(21:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)
Madrid have piled up enough lousy performances this season that it's really anything goes at this point. When you draw against the worst team in the league, everyone else smells blood in the water and will believe they can take you down. Anyone else think Madrid have basically given up on the league and are only interested in their two cup runs? Valencia are right in the mix for a Europa League spot and will be looking for points, I think another poor result for Los Blancos is in the cards.
Monday, January 21st
Real Betis vs. Athletic Bilbao
(21:30 CET, 3:30PM ET)
Say hello to your final match of the week. High flying Real Betis moved in to fourth place last week with an efficient 2-0 defeat of Levante. Athletic Bilbao continue to find new ways to look awful and are in serious trouble at the moment with a continuously shrinking point cushion between themselves and the relegation fight. We keep waiting for Athletic to wake up and turn things around but at some point we might have to accept it's not going to happen.