Primera Liga Weekend Preview

Title favourites Real Madrid and Barcelona will be seeking the comforts of home this weekend as the two Spanish superpowers look to bounce back from defeats in their opening matches.

Champions Madrid, who host Numancia at the Bernabeu on Sunday, suffered a 2-1 loss to bogey side Deportivo La Coruna in their first match prior to the international break.

However, while that defeat did not come as much of a surprise considering Madrid had not won in La Coruna since the 1991/92 campaign, Barca's 1-0 reverse at newly-promoted Numancia was much less expected.

The Catalan giants will be desperate to get back on track against Racing Santander at the Nou Camp on Saturday, but full-back Sylvinho insists there is no reason to panic.

"It's far too early to draw conclusions but I know it's hard to gain credit in the football world. We have a very strong squad and we can do many things. Barca will be title candidates alongside Real Madrid, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Valencia," he said.

Recent history suggests Barca will be celebrating a three-point haul this weekend though, as in their last 20 seasons they have won 16 of their opening home matches and drawn the other four.

Sevilla, another club with title aspirations this term, will also be hoping that playing in front of their home fans will result in a first win of the season.

Manolo Jimenez's side began with a 1-1 draw at Racing but they will be expecting a maximum points return when they host promoted Sporting Gijon at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium, which earlier this month celebrated it's 50th anniversary.

Early pacesetters Atletico Madrid will be brimming with confidence heading to Real Valladolid after winning their past two competitive matches 4-0, one against Schalke in the Champions League and then against Malaga in La Liga.

Depor's testing start to the season will see them travel to last season's runners-up Villarreal, who might still be without key forwards Nihat Kahveci, Robert Pires and Giuseppe Rossi.

Valencia, who currently sit second after starting their campaign with a 3-0 win over Real Mallorca, are scheduled to face Almeria on Sunday but it remains to be seen if that match goes ahead.

There are some doubts about the game after Almeria's Estadio del Mediterraneo was flooded due to heavy rain in the region, although club official's say they "will work hard to try to have the stadium in the best condition" by then.

If the fixture does take place it will see Valencia coach Unai Emery return to his former club having this summer left Almeria for the Mestalla.

In this weekend's other encounters, big-spending Real Betis could be in line to hand 10million euro signing Sergio Garcia his debut when they travel to Getafe, Malaga host Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna go to Mallorca and Recreativo Huelva welcome Espanyol.

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