Jornada 28 is only the second mid-week round of the La Liga season, the first occurring well back in late September. Three teams in particular are glad that they get to play so soon: FC Barcelona, Getafe, and Xerez. Xerez? Yes, that same Xerez club that threatened to become the team to secure the fewest points in one campaign since La Liga went to a thirty-eight match season.
They have earned points in three of their last four matches, including their first ever road victory in the top flight at Málaga and a 2-1 win at home against Tenerife on Saturday. They travel the short 90 km trip north to Sevilla on Tuesday, and while Xerez would almost be certain to lose at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in normal times, these are not normal times.
Manolo Jiménez’s reign as manager of Sevilla remains in the air, the players have not responded in a constructive manner since they surrendered a two-goal advantage to Real Madrid earlier this month, and they have not won a match in any competition since they broke Mallorca’s 100% home record on February 20. A turnaround against Xerez seems inevitable, but Néstor Gorosito’s men can actually sniff a chance to stave off relegation for the first time all year, and if their Andalusian neighbors are able to snatch any points, Jiménez may not make it to the end of the week.
For FC Barcelona, they would one of the last teams to welcome a mid-week round on the surface because if they can negotiate past Arsenal in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, they would endure a sixteen match stretch over the span of just fifty-six days. All told, they would have a mid-week game along with a weekend match every week from March 14 to May 9.
Already a squad suffering with injuries in key positions, a full week of rest would appear to be on Barcelona’s wish list, but their building momentum has eerie parallels to last season, when they became the first Spanish team to win the treble. While they will not defend their Copa del Rey championship, La Liga and the Champions League are well within reach, and with the scheduling in this round, Barcelona has the opportunity to put the pressure on Real Madrid, as Barcelona’s match against Osasuna is on Wednesday, and Real will have to wait until Thursday to respond to Barça’s performance.
As for Getafe, they need wins to creep into the European discussion, and they host the royalty of Madrid to their humble abode in the southern zone of the Madrid metropolitan area in the final match of the round on Thursday night. Getafe’s impressive record against Real Madrid in the last five years, three wins and two draws in nine meetings, gives Los Azulones a shot of confidence against a Real Madrid side that has retained only one goal from the beginning of the season: conquering La Liga.
With Real Madrid’s eyes solely focused on winning the league, they cannot afford to drop any points with the pace that Barcelona set at the top of the table. Los Blancos have caught up with the Blaugrana, but Getafe is Real’s thorn in their side, and Getafe manager Míchel will not miss an opportunity to impress Florentino Pérez and the Real boardroom should Manuel Pellegrini be relieved of his duties at the end of the season. While former Real cantera product Roberto Soldado will not participate in this Madrid derby, other cantera products Adrián González, Miguel Torres, and Dani Parejo need no extra incentive to show up their former employers at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.
The times listed are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) 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.
Sporting Gijón vs. Deportivo La Coruña – 2:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Sevilla vs. Xerez – 4:55 PM on Gol TV
Tenerife vs. Villarreal – 2:45 PM on DirecTV channel 456
Racing Santander vs. Mallorca – 2:45 PM on DirecTV channel 457
Almería vs. Real Zaragoza – 2:45 PM on DirecTV channel 458
FC Barcelona vs. Osasuna – 2:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Valencia vs. Málaga – 4:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Getafe vs. Real Madrid – 2:55 PM on Gol TV
Atlético Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao – 4:55 PM on Gol TV
Unfortunately, the Real Valladolid – Espanyol clash at the Estadio José Zorrilla will not be shown on US TV.