The marquee matchup of the weekend is the late Saturday kickoff between top four teams Real Madrid and Sevilla. The reverse fixture in early October was one of the matches of the season, and while Sevilla’s title chances faded away during the dregs of mid-season, they still lie fourth in the league, they have the away-goal advantage in their Champions League tie with CSKA Moskva, and they made it to the final of the Copa del Rey. Their second leg with CSKA will not commence until March 16, whereas Real’s second leg with Lyon occurs on Wednesday, four days removed from this important La Liga match. Real will likely field their strongest eleven against Sevilla, but how that will affect their performance against Lyon will be unknown until Wednesday night.
Another compelling match this weekend pits Atlético Madrid visiting Aragon to face Real Zaragoza at La Romareda. With their glamorous conquests of Barcelona, Valencia, and Galatasaray comes their disappointments against Málaga, Almería, and Racing Santander, all within the span of one month. Where Zaragoza has something for which to play (top-flight survival), Atlético’s hunger in La Liga waned eons ago. A true iconoclast of conventional thought, however, Atlético Madrid may just play at the level they perform against top teams to show the doubters that they do not play to the level of their competition (Logic with this team does not work, so any maniacal theory fits in this situation).
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.
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Tenerife – 11:55 AM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Almería vs. FC Barcelona – 1:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Real Madrid vs. Sevilla – 3:55 PM on Gol TV
Espanyol vs. Villarreal – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 456
Mallorca vs. Sporting Gijón – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 457
Osasuna vs. Getafe – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 458
Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Valladolid – 12:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Real Zaragoza vs. Atlético Madrid – 2:55 PM on Gol TV
Valencia vs. Racing Santander – 2:55 PM on Gol TV
Unfortunately, the Málaga – Xerez matchup at La Rosaleda will not be shown on US TV.
UEFA Champions League
Staring elimination in the first knockout round for the sixth consecutive season, Florentino Pérez and Real Madrid did not assemble this second galáctico generation to bow out unceremoniously yet again. A 1-0 deficit to overturn at the Santiago Bernabéu hardly constitutes as an overbearing chore on its own merit, but the expectations set by the Madridistas, the board, and the players’ own internal goals have Los Blancos in a more anxious situation than all of their past five Champions League failures combined.