What to Expect in La Liga This Weekend

16/11/2012 11:04 GMT | Updated 15/01/2013 10:12 GMT

Round 12 in La Liga kicks off in Pamplona with Osasuna facing Champions League side Malaga. The hosts will go into this game after beating Espanyol last week but still sitting rock bottom of the table, while Manuel Pellegrini's side have struggled to balance their European exploits and league form. That being said, it remains hard to pick a winner for this one but not being the one to back out, I would have to say that Jose Luis Mendilibar's men will cause an upset and will get a second consecutive win.

Shortly after that, we travel to Valencia where Los Che are hosting an Espanyol side desperate to bounce back following a dreadful defeat to the previously discussed Osasuna. The hosts should win this and if they do you can probably expect Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino to be axed from his role at the club, although with voting for a new president set to take place a day after, he could be saved.

Then, Saturday night features the so called 'big two' with Barcelona hosting Real Zaragoza and a bruised but battling Real Madrid facing Athletic Bilbao minus Fernando Llorente.

Tito Vilanova's Barcelona are setting the early pace in the league with an incredible 10 wins out of 11 games and you can expect nothing less than a win against Zaragoza. Although, it will no doubt come with some small problems. Defensive problems have been a real issue for the Catalans this season and even with the inclusion of Gerard Pique against Mallorca last weekend, they still conceded two sloppy goals.

Carles Puyol is set to return after dislocating his shoulder but Portuguese hitman Helder Postiga will cause the Barca backline problems. You can expect Zaragoza to score but the smart money will also be on Lionel Messi to bag two or three goals after Saudi Arabia stopped the Argentine star scoring in midweek.

Then to end Saturday's La Liga action, we see Real Madrid, who could be without Cristiano Ronaldo face Athletic Bilbao. Last season in this tie it was Fernando Llorente who scored an early goal inside the Santiago Bernabeu to give Marcelo Bielsa's men some chance of beating Madrid but after a summer of controvery, the Spanish international is yet to start a league game for the Basque side.

This could prove tough for Mourinho's men but whether Ronaldo starts or not, they should win this.

Heading into Sunday and the main focus will be on the Seville derby at 20.30 with an in-form Real Betis visiting the home of arch rival Sevilla. Tension will be high as ever in this match with both side's losing last week to increase the stakes even more; Betis coach Pepe Mel is relishing the tie and has backed his players to treat the game like a cup final, while Sevilla have struggled of late to score goals and they will need Alvaro Negredo to be in his best form if they are to keep the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan faithful happy.

Other things we are expecting to see: Falcao will score his 50th league goal for Atletico Madrid against Granada, Iago Aspas will continue his goalscoring form for Celta against Mallorca, Deportivo will concede at least two goals and Real Sociedad will keep being inconsistent with a Monday night lose to Rayo Vallecano.

17/11 Osasuna v. Málaga ‎-15:00, Valencia v. Espanyol ‎-17:00, Barcelona v. Zaragoza ‎-19:00, Real Madrid v. Athletic Bilbao ‎-21:00

18/11 Deportivo v. Levante ‎-11:00, Celta Vigo v. Mallorca ‎-15:00, Getafe v. Valladolid ‎-16:50, Granada v. Atlético Madrid ‎-18:45, Sevilla v. Betis ‎-20:30, Real Sociedad v. Rayo ‎-20:30