Madrid, April 16: The race for the La Liga title continues this weekend and Real Madrid may be optimistic of overtaking FC Barcelo at the top of the table in the 32nd round of matches.
Both sides play their respective matches on Saturday with Barcelo at home to Valencia and Real Madrid taking on Malaga.
But with Real Madrid having played their Champions League quarter-fil on Tuesday and Barcelo taking on Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday, it's obvious that they have had longer to prepare than the Catalans for what could be one of the decisive weekends of the season.
Fourth-placed Valencia will travel to Barcelo's Camp Nou Stadium with hopes of overtaking third-placed Atletico Madrid, while also wary of fifth-placed Sevilla, who are also pushing them hard.
They look to play on counter-attacks, a style which has given Barcelo problems in the past, but the league leaders will have taken heart from Wednesday's 3-1 win against Paris Saint Germain in France, which has all but assured their place in the semi-fils of the Champions League.
It will be interesting to see if Barcelo coach Luis Enrique rotates his players against Valencia.
Second-placed Real Madrid will also be wary of resting too many players against seventh place Malaga.
One possible advantage for Real Madrid is that they kick off after Barcelo's game and should Barcelo slip up they will know a win would take them back to the top of the league.
Real currently trail Barcelo by two points at the top of the standings.
Atletico also play on Saturday and face a trip to play struggling Deportivo for whom Victor Sanchez makes his home debut as coach. Atletico also have to balance their league obligations with the efforts of playing neighbours Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-fil second league next Wednesday.
Saturday ends with Athletic Club Bilbao playing at home to Getafe. Athletic still have hopes of a seventh place finish, while Getafe are comfortable in mid-table.
Sunday kicks off with Almeria looking to continue their recovery under Sergi Barjuan away to an unpredictable Rayo Vallecano, who last week lost 6-1 away to Celta Vigo.
Sevilla travel to Grada aiming to keep their Champions League hopes alive against a side in freefall in recent weeks and Grada coach Abel Resino could well be sacked if his side suffer a heavy defeat.
Sixth-placed Villarreal will be optimistic of taking all three points from bottom-placed Cordoba, while Eibar will look for their second successive home win when they are at home to Celta Vigo.
The round of games ends on Monday with Elche, who are still not safe from relegation, entertaining Real Sociedad. IANS