Barcelona "Classico" center of attention in Spain league

16:39, April 09, 2010      

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The "Classico" between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is the center of attention in matchday 31 in Spain's BBVA Primera Liga.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are level at the top of the Primera Liga table with 77 points from 30 matches, 21 points more than third placed Valencia.

Real Madrid is currently leader with a goal difference of plus 57 to Barca's plus 56, but with individual goal difference between two sides the decisive factor should they finish level on points in Spain, that could all change come midnight on Saturday night.

Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Camp Nou earlier in the campaign so a draw on Saturday would see them overtake their rivals as leaders. Should Real Madrid win 2-0, however, they would be clear favorites to lift the title.

Real Madrid has won its last 12 matches, while Barcelona moved into the semi-finals of the Champions League thanks to a 4-1 win over Arsenal on Tuesday night.

Pep Guardiola's side scored a historic 6-2 in the Santiago Bernabeu last season, but this year Guardiola has preferred to take the pressure off his players by forbidding them to talk to the press prior to the game.

The wisdom of that decision was made clear on Thursday when Real Madrid's Guti commented he would be leaving the club at the end of the season, complicating the atmosphere at the Bernabeu.

The teams will be at full strength, although Barca is waiting on the fitness of defender Gerard Pique, but with Leo Messi scoring four goals on Tuesday night, there is no doubt the focus of all the attention will be on the battle between the Argentinean striker and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Classico will dominate the headlines, but there is a full league program over the weekend with four more games to be played on Saturday.

Malaga kicks things off at home to Sevilla in a derby that should see both sides play aggressive football. Malaga needs points to climb away from the relegation zone, while Sevilla lies fourth and wants to return to next season's Champions League.

Javier Clemente makes his debut as Valladolid coach with a visit to fellow strugglers Tenerife (one of the many sides he has coached in his long career). Both sides need a win in order to maintain their slim hopes of avoiding relegation.

Bottom of the table Xerez has improved drastically of late, but also needs a win at home to mid-table Getafe, while Villarreal can climb into the top six with a triumph over a comfortably positioned Sporting Gijon.

Sunday's games see Racing Santander visit a Deportivo side that looks to have run out of energy after a fine first half to the season. Racing will be without star player Sergio Canales, while Deportivo's hopes of European football are fast evaporating.

Zaragoza can just about confirm its status in the Primera Liga with a win away to Osasuna, while Athletic Club Bilbao aims to make its impressive home form count against an Almeria team that has been hard to beat since Juanma Lillo took over.

Espanyol will hope to take advantage of any hangover from Atletico Madrid's Europa League quarterfinal success against Valencia, while Valencia travels to the ONO stadium where host Mallorca has lost only two matches all campaign.



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