MADRID, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Match-day nine in the Spanish Liga Santander looks as if it could produce some classic and decisive encounters at both the top and bottom of the table.
The weekend kicks off on Friday when Osasuna, fresh from their first win of the season, entertain a Betis side still reeling from their 6-1 home defeat against Real Madrid last weekend.
Defeat for Betis could mean the end for Gustavo Poyet, while Osasuna coach Enrique Martin is still under pressure, especially after a post-match press conference on Monday when he criticized those asking for his head.
Espanyol are another side needing to improve after spending money in the summer but starting off the season poorly. Quique Sanchez Flores' team has improved in defense but need goals in their home game against Eibar on midday Saturday.
That game is followed by a Spanish classic as Valencia entertain Barcelona. Valencia won their first game under new coach Cesare Prandelli last weekend, while Barca have put four past Deportivo and Manchester City in their last two matches.
The visitors are without the injured Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique, but they do have their attacking trio of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to test the Valencia back line.
The game in Mestalla is followed by another Basque derby as Real Sociedad look to bounce back from their defeat in Bilbao at home to Alaves.
It threatens to be a close game, but Alaves could discover that if Real Sociedad are pressured high up the pitch as they were in Bilbao, their defense and midfield can be forced into mistakes.
Saturday's final game sees Granada look to recover from their 7-1 thrashing away to Atletico Madrid with their first win of the season, and Sporting Gijon look like perfect rivals as they travel south on the back of five straight defeats.
Sunday kicks off with the Galician derby as Celta Vigo entertain Deportivo la Coruna and that is followed by what looks like a fascinating game as league leaders Atletico Madrid travel to face third place Sevilla.
Both sides won their midweek Champions League matches and look to be improving as the season continues, so Sunday looks like an even clash between two sides who both defend well and hit their rivals at pace.
Perhaps Atletico are slight favorites given the form of their strikers, Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco, but Sevilla are notoriously tough to beat in the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Villarreal have a chance to extend their excellent start to the season at home to Las Palmas and could move into the top four if other results go their way, while Leganes will provide Malaga with a tough challenge in the La Rosaleda Stadium.
Sunday ends with another classic, as Athletic Club Bilbao visit Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Both sides have injury worries ahead of the game and a key factor could be that Madrid have 48 hours more to prepare for the game than their rivals who face a vital Europa League game away to Genk on Thursday night.