Real Madrid's Bernd Schuster and Atletico Madrid counterpart Javier Aguirre both need wins in the Spanish football league to quell criticism after poor midweek performances in the Copa del Rey.
|Schuster wonders where it all went wrong [AFP]
Third-division club Real Union upset Madrid, while Atletico's players were jeered off at the Vicente Calderon stadium following a listless draw that allowed them to edge through to the next round.
Schuster met with Madrid's senior executives following Tuesday's match and was reportedly told that only victory at 16th-placed Valladolid this Saturday would suffice.
Barcelona is top of the table with 25 points, Villarreal has 24 and Madrid and Valencia have 23.
"I'm not worried about my job, but I understand that others will have some doubts," said Schuster.
"That's logical with what we are seeing," he continued.
Schuster is being tipped to be replaced by technical director Miguel Angel Portugal, former coach of Racing Santander.
Schuster received more bad news when Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was ruled out for up to six months after undergoing knee surgery.
The injury worries extend beyond Van Nistelrooy to midfielders Arjen Robben, Ruben de la Red and Mahamadou Diarra, while defenders Fabio Cannavaro, Pepe and Christoph Metzelder are all questionable for the match at the Municipal Jose Zorrilla stadium.
With injuries mounting, critics have highlighted the teams poor dealings in the transfer market, notably the failure to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and the departure of Robinho to Manchester City.
"The problem is that teams score against us from the first chance they get," Schuster said.
"This team is always willing to fight back, but you cannot keep doing it in every clash.
"It works in one game or two, but not always."
Madrid has scored three goals per game over its last four league matches, but has also conceded more than two per game during that stretch.
|Coach Javier Aguirre ponders on a disappointing draw [GALLO/GETTY]
Aguirre's problem has been a lack of goals, with Atletico scoring just four goals in the last five matches.
Seventh in the standings, Atletico has 14 points going into Sunday's match against Deportivo La Coruna, which has won its last two matches and are one place higher on 15 points.
"Of course I understand that (fans) are going away angry," Aguirre said after the 0-0 draw on Wednesday against Orihuela.
"This time we couldn't score, but I have total faith in my players.
"My strikers have quality."
Barcelona's offence, which is averaging more than three goals a game, can continue its assault on the record books on Sunday at Recreativo Huelva which hasn't won since the first week of the season.
The Catalans will look to maintain coach Pep Guardiola's impressive start as speculation swirls over its players, with Manchester United reportedly interested in Spain international Xavi Hernandez.
Villarreal is without Sebastian Eguren for its match at Malaga on Sunday after the Uruguay midfielder injured his left foot and is set to be out for up to five weeks.
Valencia, currently just two points off the lead, will look to win for the first time in three games against Sporting on Saturday, but midfielder Miguel Angel Angulo is an injury doubt.
Sunday's other games: Getafe vs. Sevilla; Almeria vs. Mallorca; Espanyol vs. Numancia; Real Betis vs. Racing Santander; and Athletic Bilbao vs. Osasuna.