No rest in Sapin with midweek fixture program

18:09, April 12, 2010      

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The cramped fixture list in Spain means that neither FC Barcelona can afford to waste time celebrating its weekend triumph over Real Madrid, nor can Real Madrid lose time lamenting as both sides play in a full round of midweek matches.

Barcelona should have striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich back for the visit of Deportivo la Coruna to the Camp Nou Stadium on Wednesday night. The Swede has been struggling with a calf strain.

Deportivo has dropped to mid-table after a good start to the season and has not won in its last six games.

Real Madrid meanwhile faces a test of character with a trip to Almeria on Thursday. Almeria coach Juanma Lillo rested some players such as Crusat on Sunday and his players will want to bounce back from the resulting 4-1 hammering they received away to Athletic Club Bilbao.

Karim Benzema could return to Real Madrid’s starting 11 along with Guti, as coach Manuel Pellegrini looks to bring more creativity into midfield.

The week's fixtures kick off with two games on Tuesday night. Sevilla travels to relegation haunted Valladolid looking for a win that will keep them in fourth place and on track to qualify for next season's Champions League. New Valladolid coach Javier Clemente makes his home debut following a 0-0 draw away to Tenerife.

Tenerife meanwhile has no option other than to win on its trip to play Sporting Gijon. Sporting may be comfortable in mid table, but Tenerife is locked in the relegation zone and struggles on its travels away from the island.

Wednesday sees the bulk of the week's matches. An irregular Atletico Madrid entertains bottom of the table Xerez. Atletico looks to have placed all of its attention on the Europa League and the Kings Cup, but failure to beat the bottom of the table side will anger the fans in the Vicente Calderon.

Racing Santander and Espanyol face each other in el Sardinero: Espanyol is all but safe from relegation, but Racing still needs points before it can relax completely.

The same could be said for Osasuna and Malaga, although Malaga needs to halt a losing streak to avoid being drawn into the relegation dogfight once again.

The day's final match sees Mallorca take its battle to finish in the top six to Zaragoza, another side not completely safe from the drop.

Thursday sees Real Madrid’s visit to Almeria, while Valencia entertains Athletic Club. Valencia looks safe in third place, while sixth placed Athletic is looking for a top four finish.

Athletic's strikers Fernando Llorente and Gaizka Toquero will aim to take advantage of a weakened Valencia defense to strengthen its cause for a place in next season’s Champions League.

Source: Xinhua


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