Atletico Madrid vs. Real Betis is the best match-up in terms of potential story lines this week as the Spanish Primera Division rolls on in to February
Can Atheltic Bilbao continue their apparent revival? Has Real Betis finally hit the wall? Could Falcao return to lift Atletico? Will Granada or Valencia pull of a big upset? There's plenty of questions surrounding this week's La Liga action and hopefully we'll get some answers.
Friday, February 1st
Real Valladolid vs. Athletic Bilbao
(20:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)
Marcelo Bielsa and Athletic appear to have gotten things figured out recently. They played well against Real Betis and hammered Atletico Madrid last weekend to get a bit of momentum going. Valladolid, who had been on a good run of form, slumped in a defeat against Levante last weekend.
Saturday, February 2nd
Osasuna vs. Celta Vigo
(15:00 CET, 10:00AM ET)
Osasuna want out of the drop zone, Celta Vigo want to stay out of the drop zone...this could be an interesting match between two relegation battling sides. Osasuna have had a week to lick their wounds from their 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona. If they can remember the fact they were playing well before that game, they should be fine. Celta continues to do just enough and get points, which is usually a good thing when you're trying to stay in the top flight.
Getafe vs. Deportivo La Coruña
(17:00 CET, 12:00PM ET)
It's getting in to now or never territory for Deportivo if they want to make a serious run at getting out of the drop zone. After showing signs of life early in the month, Depor has begun to look bad again which isn't good. Getafe got beaten up by Real Madrid last week and will be looking to get back on track.
Espanyol vs. Levante
(19:00 CET, 2:00PM ET)
Levante finally scored some goals and won last week after two straight shutout defeats, so that's a plus. Their recent slump has seen them slide down the table a little but they're still in the fight for a Europa League spot. Beating Espanyol would be a good step in the right direction but the Periquitos have been much better of late and tough at home as well.
Granada vs. Real Madrid
(21:00 CET, 4:00PM ET)
Let's be honest, Granada shouldn't have a shot in this game of getting a result...but they just might. Madrid have been much better recently but they're coming off a tough match against Barcelona in the mid-week so Mourinho could rest some bodies with a busy month ahead. It's one of those games for Granada that no one will look badly upon them if they lose, but should they find a way to steal some points, it could be huge for them as they try to avoid relegation.
Sunday, Februrary 3rd
Malaga vs. Real Zaragoza
(13:00 CET, 8:00AM ET)
Malaga finally got back into fourth place thanks to Real Betis hitting the skids a bit lately and you'd expect they'd like to stay there. They rebounded nicely from their Copa del Rey defeat against Barcelona and there's no excuse for them not to beat Zaragoza who've yet to win in 2013.
Sevilla FC vs. Rayo Vallecano
(16:00 CET, 11:00AM ET)
Rayo got a huge win over Betis last week and will be looking to continue to put pressure on their European spot rivals by trying to take advantage of a potentially tired Sevilla side. Unai Emery's squad are coming off a Copa del Rey semifinal first leg and are not a team blessed with a ton of depth. If Rayo fancy themselves challengers for fourth place, they really should get a result out of this game.
Valencia vs. Barcelona
(18:00 CET, 1:00PM ET)
Valencia have won four our of five league matches and rebounded back in to the top half of the table. Now they really get a test as Barcelona comes to town. Los Che played Barca tough in their first meeting of the season and Barca could be susceptible after their Copa del Rey battle with Real Madrid. Much like the Madrid, Barca should win this match but if there was ever a time for Valencia to pull off an upset, now is the time.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Betis
(20:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)
Atleti looked horrible in their loss to Athletic Bilbao last weekend as the gap between themselves and Real Madrid is shrinking fast. Striker Radamel Falcao is hoping to be back for this game and there's no doubt Diego Simeone's side could use the boost. After taking over fourth place a couple weeks ago, Betis have hit the wall a bit drawing against Athletic and getting smashed by Rayo last weekend. It's gut check time for Betis if they want to stay in the fight for a Champions League spot next season.
(20:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)
Sociedad followed up their stunning upset of Barcelona with a lackluster draw against Celta Vigo. This week they get Mallorca who've lost three straight matches and are stuck in the relegation zone. No offense to fans of either side but this match doesn't get anyone excited.