This weekend’s La Liga action sees Real Madrid’s much-anticipated re-match with Racing Santander.
In October last year Real Madrid were humiliated 2-0 at Racing Santander’s El Sardinero stadium, one of the goals sensationally coming from Pedro Munitis, on-loan from Madrid.
This time around Real are looking a much more coherent unit and have just begun a gallop towards the title which many pundits predict will end in honours.
The goals of Ronaldo and Raul have been instrumental to Real’s recent eclipse of Real Sociedad, who were forced into second place last weekend after leading the table for many months.
Against Racing Santander, injuries to Helguera and Hierro mean a starting place for Francisco Pavon.
Chasing hard behind the leading duo are Valencia, who entertain an Atletico Madrid side who have been unconvincing on their travels this season.
Atletico, managed by outspoken Luis Aragones, have selection dilemmas as youngster ‘El Nino’ Fernando Torres is out, along with Argentine goalkeeper German Burgos.
It is therefore likely that Jose Mari, a success this season after coming back from Milan, will partner Fernando Correa in attack.
For Valencia, Argentine midfield playmaker Pablo Aimar is set to return in addition to Ruben Baraja who missed out last week against Celta Vigo.
Valencia will endeavour to prevent powerful Atletico midfielders Emerson and Albertini from taking control of the game whilst at the same time trying to give chances to young front man Mista.
Also on Saturday, title hopefuls Deportivo La Coruna face mid-table Villareal at the Riazor and Barcelona attempt to gather momentum when they host Valladolid to the Camp Nou.
On Sunday relegation favourites Recreativo and Espanyol try to take points off each other as they battle to avoid the drop. Espanyol will be looking to striker Raul Tamudo as his goals are probably the most likely route of escape.
Real Sociedad will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat by Vallodolid and show Real Madrid that they have the stomach for a title fight, when they welcome Alaves. The two Basque teams are at opposite ends of the table but both need points to either challenge orsurvive.
Other matches around Spain include Copa del Rey finalists Mallorca at home to Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano versus the defensively-frugal Celta Vigo, Sevilla against Osasuna and finally UEFA Cup quarter-finalists Malaga against Athletico Bilbao.