One of the unique characteristics of La Liga is that after the first half of the season, the second half schedule is a carbon copy of the first half, except that the away team will now be the home team. Thus, all those teams who did not achieve the result they desired will have a chance to reverse their fortunes all in the same weekend. This scheduling quirk also gives the fans and the media an interesting perspective into the comparison of the clubs now versus nineteen weeks ago.
The shock result of the opening round of the season was Málaga’s 3-0 thumping of Atlético Madrid at home in La Rosaleda. As the season has played out to this point, this final does not have the same caliber of surprise as it did then, but Los Colchoneros have their chance for revenge in a match that includes a tinge of relegation panic for both team, an idea that never crossed their minds when they commenced their campaign.
Real Madrid will look to keep up with Barcelona as they travel to the northwest of Spain to face a Deportivo La Coruña team who was knocked out of the Copa del Rey, albeit with a less than full strength team against Sevilla. When Real and Depor played in the opening week of the season, new manager Manuel Pellegrini sent out his five new signings in a match that captivated European football because the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, and Raúl Albiol were now playing together. Questions of chemistry still exist since that 3-2 win over Depor, but with Barça traveling to Sporting Gijón, Real Madrid cannot afford to drop points at this stage of the season.
The times listed are Eastern Standard Time (EST) and include the pregame pleasantries, although sometimes the matches on the DirecTV La Liga specific channels may not go to match coverage until right before kickoff.
Espanyol vs. Athletic Bilbao – 11:55 AM on Gol TV
Sporting Gijón vs. FC Barcelona – 1:55 PM on Gol TV
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Real Madrid – 3:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Xerez vs. Mallorca – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 456
Villarreal vs. Osasuna – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 457
Tenerife vs. Real Zaragoza – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 458
Getafe vs. Racing Santander – 10:55 AM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Atlético Madrid vs. Málaga – 12:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Sevilla vs. Valencia – 3:55 PM on Gol TV
Unfortunately, the Real Valladolid – Almería match at the Estadio José Zorilla will not be seen on US TV.
Copa del Rey
The second legs failed to recreate the drama of the previous round, but with the semifinals on the horizon and a potential Europa League spot for grabs, the intensity will be ramped up five-fold. On the surface, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid are the betting favorites to reach the final, but the sudden surge of Racing Santander and Getafe’s ability to win at Mallorca, where they had won every match at home until that juncture, will provide compelling two-legged ties in the next two mid-weeks.
Sevilla vs. Getafe – 4:45 PM on Gol TV
Atlético Madrid vs. Racing Santander – 3:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360