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A rare midweek round of action will allow some of La Liga’s strugglers to get their first taste of victory…

TUESDAY

20:00 CET - Sevilla vs Mallorca

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22:00 CET - Racing Santander vs Barcelona

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WEDNESDAY

20:00 CET - Atletico Madrid vs Almeria

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20:00 CET - Villarreal vs Real Madrid

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20:00 CET - Espanyol vs Malaga

The Blanquiblaus picked up their first win of the season at the weekend with a surprise 3-2 success at Deportivo La Coruna. Up until the 20th minute of that game at the Riazor, Espanyol had failed to score a single goal, despite boasting attacking talents such as Luis Garcia, Raul Tamudo and Shunsuke Nakamura.

Ironically enough, they managed to find the back of the net without the services of the latter two, both of whom were out injured, along with playmaking sensation Ivan de la Pena.

Malaga, on the other hand, have gone somewhat backwards. After their sensational 3-0 thumping of Atletico Madrid on opening day, they have lost both their subsequent encounters, going down 1-0 at Deportivo and 2-1 at home to Racing Santander last Saturday.

Juan Ramon Muniz will be hoping that his charges can snap their losing streak immediately, but they will have to do it without Milan Stepanov, who is out for a month with injury, but Apono should return to a starting berth after regaining full fitness.

Prediction: Espanyol 3-1 Malaga

20:00 CET - Xerez vs Deportivo La Coruna

La Liga new-boys, Xerez remain the only side without a single goal in the league after three rounds. Cuco Zigana’s side showed plenty of defensive discipline against Real Madrid on Sunday – despite losing 5-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu – but their ineffective attacking arsenal was also cruelly exposed as they created countless openings from set-pieces but failed to score.

Depor, meanwhile, have reverted to their old inconsistent habits. A 3-2 loss at Madrid in Round 1 was hardly a shameful result, and they quickly bounced back with a 1-0 win over Malaga. But last weekend’s unexpected reverse to Espanyol has left Miguel Angel Lotina’s men in 13th place in the standings. Another defeat could dampen their early-season aspirations of fighting for an European berth.

Neither side have any major injury concerns.   

Prediction: Xerez 0-2 Deportivo La Coruna

20:00 CET - Real Valladolid vs Osasuna

The Pucelanos have made an identical start to the last campaign, winning, losing and drawing once each in their first three outings. After putting a woeful 4-2 home defeat to Valencia in Round 2 behind them, Jose Luis Mendilibar’s troops bravely fought off a persistent Real Zaragoza side on Sunday to win 2-1 at La Romareda.

After battling hard to avoid relegation last term, Osasuna have quickly found themselves being swallowed back down towards the foot of the table. Two defeats and a draw have left them lingering in 18th spot, and they are one of only four sides who have yet to register a win.

Jose Antonio Camacho will once again be able to call on Nacho Monreal and Javad Nekounam, both of who return from suspension, but Cesar Azpilicueta is away on international duty with Spain’s U-20 World Cup squad.

Prediction: Real Valladolid 1-1 Osasuna

21:00 CET - Tenerife vs Athletic Bilbao

Tenerife, like their two other newly promoted comrades, are struggling to make an impact an impact in the Spanish top flight, unlike seasons past when at least one of the newcomers would take the league by storm. And if last weekend’s lopsided 4-0 hammering by Mallorca is anything to go by, El Tete look certain to struggle for the remainder of the campaign.

Athletic, on the other hand, are unquestionably the surprise package after the opening three rounds of the season. The Basque outfit have a 100 per cent record in La Liga, and this despite having to juggle Europa League commitments, as they join perennial title favourites, Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table with a maximum nine points.

To further highlight Athletic’s phenomenal form and talent pool, they have a number players missing through injury at present, including Pablo Orbaiz, Inigo Diaz de Cerio, Inaki Munoz and Ion Velez. Keep an eye on 16-year-old wunderkind, Iker Muniain. The youngest ever player to feature for Los Leones’ first team has made an impressive start, and he will be hunting for his first ever La Liga goal.

Extending their incredible run will be a challenge for Joaquin Caparros, but he will fancy his side’s chances of making it four out of four against a poor Tenerife outfit.

Prediction: Tenerife 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

22:00 CET - Getafe vs Valencia

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THURSDAY

22:00 CET - Sporting Gijon vs Real Zaragoza

The Asturians battled gallantly with ten men to snatch a point from the Mestalla, netting a late, late goal through Gregory Arnolin to force a 2-2 draw against an in-form Valencia at the weekend.

Midfielder, Michel Madera was responsible for leaving his Sporting side a man short after picking two yellow cards in a space of ten first half minutes. As such, he will be suspended for the visit of Zaragoza.

The Aragons have so far made an unspectacular return to top flight football. After a tame 1-0 win over fellow promoted outfit, Tenerife on opening day, Los Blanquillos were crushed 4-1 at Sevilla in Round 2 before stumbling to a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Valladolid at the weekend.

Ikechukwu Uche is out for the rest of the season after damaging his knee ligaments two weeks ago. Braulio is also out injured but Ewerthon returns from suspension.

Prediction: Sporting Gijon 1-2 Real Zaragoza 

KS Leong, Goal.com

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