MADRID, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- La Liga moves into the second half of the season this weekend, with Barcelona five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table. Here are some things to look out for in the coming days in Spain.
1. Difficult trip for Real Madrid on eve of FIFA Club World Cup
Real Madrid's visit to Mallorca on paper looks to be a tough game against a well-organized rival that is solid at home, and who have only conceded 18 goals all campaign.
Javier Aguirre has done a good job on the island and although his side doesn't score many goals (15 all campaign), the fact they have won their last three home matches 1-0 shows the task facing Real Madrid.
Madrid travel after beating Valencia on Thursday night, with Eder Militao and Karim Benzema joining Ferland Mendy and Lucas Vazquez on the injury list. And with the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco next week, there is no let-up for Carlo Ancelotti's side.
2. Atletico Madrid could spell the end for former coach Quique
Arguably Saturday's biggest game sees Atletico Madrid entertain Getafe in the Metropolitano Stadium in a Madrid derby.
While Atletico go into the match on the back of consecutive league wins, Getafe have slipped to second from bottom after four successive defeats. With just 17 points from their first 19 matches, there is a feeling that a team containing players such as Borja Mayoral, Enes Unal, Carles Alena and Omar Alderete is seriously underperforming.
There were rumors coach Quique Sanchez Flores was facing the sack after last weekend's loss at home to Betis. Although he clung onto his job, another setback would surely see the man, who counts Atletico among his former employers, out of the door.
3. Defense the key as Barca face improving Sevilla
Although most conversations about FC Barcelona tend to focus on their attacking football, Barca's defense has been the key to their leadership this season. The own goal Jules Kounde scored against Betis on Wednesday night was just the seventh goal they have conceded in La Liga all season.
Bearing in mind that Barca have won five out of their last six league matches by just a single goal, defensive solidness rather than their effectiveness in front of goal has been the difference.
That is not just down to defenders, but also to midfielders such as Gavi, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, who get back to help out at the back. With Ousmane Dembele still out for the Sevilla game, that work ethic will be vital once again.
4. More pain for Valencia?
Valencia coach Gennaro Gattuso left the club by 'mutual consent' on Monday, with 'Voro' Gonzalez named to temporarily replace him.
Voro's seventh spell as caretaker manager got off to a bad start on Thursday when his side fell to a 2-0 defeat away to Real Madrid.
With no signing in January and a squad that gets weaker every season, Valencia are just a point above the relegation zone and could even be in it by the time they kick off their match in Girona.
Girona are a well-drilled outfit with a sting in attack, and unless Voro can improve morale, Valencia could be headed for another painful defeat. ■