Two clubs pulled the plug on their managers after a string of poor results that came to a head in the last round. Ernesto Valverde’s Villarreal suffered a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Osasuna, and Jose Luis Mendilibar’s Real Valladolid could only manage a 1-1 draw at home against fellow relegation strugglers Almería. Villarreal promoted their “B” team coach Juan Carlos Garrido to the senior team, and Real Valladolid did the same in promoting their reserve team coach Onésimo Sanchez to the first team. They may be temporary solutions until the end of the season, but both clubs hope that they make a similar impact that Josep Guardiola made when he was promoted from the Barcelona B team to the senior team.
Both of these coaches will be thrown into the fire in their first matches as Villarreal travels to Mallorca, where Les Barralets have won every match in La Liga this season, and Real Valladolid visits the Mestalla, where Valencia will hope to take their anger from their defeat against Sevilla last week onto their Castilla y León visitors.
The Athletic Bilbao – Xerez match is off the radar for many La Liga viewers, but Athletic should be wary of the Andalusians, who notched only their second win of the season when they defeated fourth-place Mallorca 2-1 last weekend. The win might be a product of how abysmal Mallorca is on the road, but a new-found spirit instilled by the new manager Néstor Gorosito has given a glimmer of hope to a club who looked destined to return to the Segunda División next 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.
Valencia vs. Real Valladolid – 11:55 AM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
FC Barcelona vs. Getafe – 1:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Real Madrid vs. Espanyol – 3:55 PM on Gol TV
Athletic Bilbao vs. Xerez – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 456
Mallorca vs. Villarreal – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 457
Almería vs. Sporting Gijón – 10:45 AM on DirecTV channel 458
Málaga vs. Deportivo La Coruña – 10:55 AM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360
Real Zaragoza vs. Sevilla – 12:55 PM on Gol TV
Racing Santander vs. Atlético Madrid – 2:55 PM on Gol TV
Unfortunately, the Osasuna – Tenerife match at El Reyno de Navarra will not be shown on US TV.
Copa del Rey
Ninety minutes away from the Copa del Rey final in May. Sevilla has one foot in the door already with their convincing 2-0 win over Getafe, but Getafe’s star striker Roberto Soldado again failed to capitalize on a couple of opportunities that would have seriously tested Sevilla goalkeeper Andrés Palop. Soldado’s positioning and anticipation are impeccable, but his finishing technique remains to hold him back from becoming a true factor in La Liga and the Spanish national team.
Atlético Madrid and their fans, Los Colchoneros, can book their travel plans for the final in May, as they thrashed Racing Santander 4-0 in the first leg on Thursday. Schizophrenic Atlético brushed off their poor performance against Málaga over the weekend and outclassed the Asturians. It will take a monumental comeback for Racing to make the second leg competitive, but they can look at their opponents, who had to overturn a three goal deficit against Recreativo Huelva in the Round of 16 and won 5-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Getafe vs. Sevilla – 3:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN 360 (Getafe 0-2 Sevilla after the first leg)
Racing Santander vs. Atlético Madrid – 3:55 PM on Gol TV (Racing Santander 0-4 Atlético Madrid after the first leg)
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