Girona will be aiming to crank up the pressure on title rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid when they face bottom placed Almeria on Sunday evening. The Catalan outfit’s earth shattering season will get even better if they maintain their impressive record of beating every team in the lower echelons of Liga Santander’s standings against a side that is yet to register a single victory all season.
With joint leaders Real Madrid occupied by the Spanish Super Cup final scheduled for Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Michel Sanchez’s go getters can move three points clear of Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos by simply playing the same front foot football that has brought stunning victories over reigning champions Barcelona (4-2) and Atletico Madrid (4-3).
Almeria remain the only team in Europe’s top five leagues without a victory all season. Unless they start winning – they have five draws in 18 games, they are certain to break the record for lowest points tally ever registered in Liga Santander that’s currently held by Sporting Gijon which accumulated a paltry 13 points in 1997/98.
Athletic Bilbao host Real Sociedad in the outstanding fixture this weekend. Ernesto Valderde’s eight time champions are traditionally the bigger draw but they have been eclipsed by Imanol Iguacil’s visitors in recent seasons. The San Mames Stadium based outfit are going about restoring their superior pedigree with gusto and go into the match lying fourth in the standings with 38 points, six more than Iguacil’s Champions League reps.
Iguacil’s job has been complicated by the loss of striker Umar Sadiq and Malian Hamari Traore to the Africa Cup of Nations which commences on Saturday in Ivory Coast while Takefuso Kubo is away with Japan at the Asia Cup. Nicknamed Los Leones, 23-time Copa del Rey winners Bilbao are to miss the services of Ghanaian Inaki Williams.
Sevilla v Deportivo Alaves
Las Palmas v Villarreal,
Mallorca v Celta Vigo,
Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad,
Real Betis v Granada
Almeria v Girona
Cadiz v Valencia