Saturday sees next act in Barca-Real title race

19:39, April 23, 2010      

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Saturday sees the next act between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in the race for Spain's BBVA Primera Liga title.

With just five matches remaining, Barcelona holds a one-point edge over Real Madrid and will be favorite to extend that to four points when Xerez visits the Camp Nou stadium on Saturday evening.

Barcelona looked tired in its 3-1 Champions League defeat away to Inter Milan on Tuesday, but that was hardly surprising after a physical duel with neighbors Espanyol the previous Saturday and a long bus journey to Italy.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will rotate his squad for the visit of the team that is bottom of the table and players such as Bojan Krkic, Toure Yaya and Gabi Milito can all expect to start.

Xerez has improved greatly since the arrival of coach Nestor Gorisito, but is still five points from safety and looks favorite to be relegated. They could however, give Barcelona some nervous moments should the league leaders underestimate them.

Real Madrid kicks off away to Zaragoza almost immediately after the Barcelona match ends. The club has had a morale boost seeing Barcelona's lead reduced to one point, but will face a tough rival in the La Romareda Stadium.

Zaragoza is just two points above the relegation zone, but has improved in the past months with the arrival of Humberto Suazo and powerful defender Jarosik.

Real Madrid meanwhile will again place faith in Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, while Kaka continues to struggle for match fitness.

Third placed Valencia rounds off Saturday's matches with the visit of a Deportivo la Coruna team that appears to have lost all options of playing in Europe after two poor months.

Sunday's matches turn attention to the battle to avoid relegation. Valladolid, unbeaten in three games since Javier Clemente took over as coach, visits Sporting Gijon. A defeat would see Sporting drop dangerously close to the relegation zone.

A Malaga side only one point above the drop zone, visits fourth placed Mallorca. Mallorca has only lost twice in its home ground all season, but defeat for Malaga could drop the side from the south coast in the bottom three.

For that to happen Tenerife has to take something from its visit to Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon Stadium. That could well happen given that Atletico played Europa League against Liverpool on Thursday, while its domestic form has fallen badly away in the past month.

Villarreal has European options and will look for the points against Racing Santander, while Getafe and Sevilla go head to head in a game that could affect both sides European ambitions.

Espanyol visits Almeria, in a game between two sides with little to play for, while Monday sees a semi-derby as Osasuna entertains Athletic club Bilbao. Athletic needs a win to get back into the top six ahead of next weeks game at home to Mallorca.

Source: Xinhua


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