La Liga 2013, Week 24 preview and fixtures: Roll on Espanyol, roll on

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

There may not be a better story in La Liga at the moment than Espanyol and they'll look to continue their rise from relegation fodder to the mid-table with a match against sinking Real Betis. Barcelona travels to Granada while Real Madrid host Rayo Vallecano.

While several teams wrestle with busy schedules thanks to European competitions, the La Liga season rolls on. Here's a preview of all this weekend's matches along with kick-off times.

Friday, February 15th

Sevilla FC vs. Deportivo La Coruña

(21:30 CET, 3:30PM ET)

Sevilla ran into an annoyed Real Madrid team last weekend and got hammered, temporarily derailing the progress that Unai Emery has made since taking over at the club. No big deal, it's Madrid, it happens. Sevilla can get back on track this week when they face last place Depor who are desperate for points. Unfortunately for Depor, desperation rarely equals points.

Saturday, February 16th

Getafe vs. Celta Vigo

(16:00 CET, 10:00AM ET)

Sorry fans but this match has "meh" written all over it. Getafe probably should win but if Celta have dreams of not being in the relegation zone anymore, they might want to find a way to win this match...and a great deal more over the next couple months.

Malaga vs. Athletic Bilbao

(18:00 CET, 12:00PM ET)

Well just when we thought Athletic were getting things together and possibly turning their season around. Then they got absolutely demolished by Espanyol and they're back to square one. Athletic aren't going to get relegated (most likely) but we have to start wondering if Marcelo Bielsa will survive the season. Malaga on the other hand got a good win over Levante and are two points clear in fourth place.

Granada vs. Barcelona

(20:00 CET, 2:00PM ET)

While Barcelona have a Champions League match against AC Milan looming, they'll still have more than enough to deal with Granada. I'm not expected much from this match other than lots of goals for Barca.

Osasuna vs. Real Zaragoza

(22:00 CET, 4:00PM ET)

This match is made interesting by the fact that both these teams are perched precariously close to the relegation zone and probably want to get some more secure footing. Both teams are helped by the fact that the three teams behind them aren't playing well, but there are scenarios that could see Osasuna drop into the relegation zone after the weekend.

Sunday, February 17th

Real Sociedad vs. Levante

(12:00 CET, 6:00AM ET)

Levante have lost two straight matches and are slipping out of the European spot fight rather quickly. Sociedad have won two straight have have climbed in to the picture for the same fight. We'll have to see in those trends continue.

Valencia vs. Mallorca

(17:00 CET, 11:00AM ET)

Valencia will need to re-focus after a disappointing Champions League performance against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. Thanks to their win over Celta last week they're moved right onto Malaga's tail for a Champions League place for next season. Mallorca are stuck in the relegation zone so let's be honest here, this is a match Valencia needs to win.

Real Valladolid vs. Atletico Madrid

(19:00 CET, 1:00PM ET)

After a great win over Real Betis, Atletico Madrid crashed to earth with a loss against Rayo Vallecano. Real Madrid have once again closed the gap between themselves and Atletico to four points for second place. It's pretty simple at this point for Atletico, they need to beat the teams below them or they're going to lose their hold on second. Working against Atletico is their insanely busy schedule at the moment as they play the second match of their seven games in 21 days stretch.

Espanyol vs. Real Betis

(21:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)

Espanyol are on FIRE! No losses in their last five matches have seen the relegation threatened side move up all the way to 13th place. Not too shabby. Real Betis are struggling and haven't won in four matches. They've got from fourth place to eight place and are on the verge of falling out of the European spot race.

Real Madrid vs. Rayo Vallecano

(21:00 CET, 3:00PM ET)

Rayo got a great win over Atletico Madrid last week but this week they face the other Madrid team that will likely prove to be a far more difficult side to topple. Then again who knows because Real Madrid had a big match against Manchester United on Wednesday and they might be a bit worn out...or they might be annoyed at having not gotten their desired result. Either Rayo will be able to catch them no concentrating or they might get smashed by an angry Madrid team.

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