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Preview: Friends reunited and rivalries recalled in Spanish La Liga
Published in Ahram Online on 09 - 03 - 2018

LaLiga will reunite long-time friends and former colleagues all over Spain this weekend, with history suggesting there will be lots to play for at the top and bottom of the table.
Valencia CF coach Marcelino Garcia Toral and midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia return to their former club Sevilla FC on Saturday afternoon, with rojiblanco midfielder Ever Banega also facing his one-time team. Friendships will be forgotten though once the game begins with fifth placed Sevilla looking to make ground on Valencia, directly above them in the table.
It is top against bottom at La Rosaleda on Saturday evening, as leaders FC Barcelona aim to extend their club record of 35 LaLiga games unbeaten without injured captain Andres Iniesta. Hosts Malaga are low on confidence, but who should recall that their 2-0 win in this fixture last April was the blaugrana team's last defeat in the competition.
Eibar host Real Madrid on Saturday afternoon with the Basques looking for a first ever LaLiga win against Madrid, whose coach Zinedine Zidane maintains that his third-placed side are not yet out of the title race.
Second placed Atletico Madrid will look to bounce back from last weekend's defeat at the Camp Nou by winning at home to Celta Vigo, with both coaches Diego Simeone and Juan Carlos Unzue having been teammates at Sevilla in the early 1990s.
The coaches will also know each other on Sunday morning at Cornella El-Prat, as RCD Espanyol's Quique Sanchez Flores and Real Sociedad's Eusebio Sacristan were colleagues with Spain's national side in the late 1980s.
There will also be reunions aplenty on Sunday evening at San Mames as Athletic Club welcome Leganes, whose coach Asier Garitano, defender Unai Bustinza and midfielder Javi Eraso all began their careers at the Basque club. When Alaves host Real Betis on Monday home forward Munir El Haddadi will be marked by his former Barcelona teammate Marc Bartra.
Towards the bottom, 19th placed Las Palmas host Villarreal with history on their side, as the Canary Islanders are unbeaten at home in this fixture since 2000. New Levante coach Paco Lopez will also look to the past for a precedent as his team have won two of their last five games at Getafe. Deportivo La Coruna are visiting Girona for the first time ever on Friday night, hoping that last week's draw against Eibar marks a change of fortune for coach Clarence Seedorf.
*This article is provided by Spanish La Liga

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