No room for error for Barcelona and Real Madrid
Madrid, May 8 (IANS) There are just three football games left in the La Liga season and this weekend's coming rounds once again will be vital for both the top and the bottom of the table. Both league leaders FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will once again have to shake off tired legs as they prepare for their matches on Saturday.
Barcelona defend their two-point lead at home to an in-form Real Sociedad at Camp Nou. Although Barcelona will be in good spirits in the wake of their 3-0 win over Bayern Munich on Wednesday, manager Luis Enrique will introduce changes with Claudio Bravo back in goal while Adrian and Xavi Hernandez both having a chance of making the starting 11.
Real Sociedad are in mid-table but in good form after drawing in Bilbao and defeating Levante and David Moyes has bit-by-bit begun to build a solid group of players.
Barcelona's game is followed by Real Madrid playing what is almost certainly their most difficult game in what remains of the campaign as Valencia visit Santiago Bernabeu. Karim Benzema could return to action after overcoming his knee injury but should Barcelona win their match, Real Madrid will kick-off knowing that anything less than a win will mean the end of their league title ambitions.
Carlo Ancelotti has a difficult choice to make knowing that the following Wednesday his side have to entertain Juventus at the same ground and overcome their 1-2 defeat suffered in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
He will still be without Luka Modric against a rival who have their sights firmly set on third place in the standings from under the nose of Atletico Madrid, who will travel to Madrid with far fresher legs than their rivals.
If Ronaldo remains at his best, Real Madrid will feel more confident but it could be a tense 90 minutes if Valencia play their usual compact game and look to make Real Madrid suffer on the break.
Atletico Madrid will defend their third place away to Levante on Sunday where the high temperatures expected on the east coast could be a factor. Fifth-placed Sevilla have a tricky match away to Celta Vigo, who still maintain a slight chance of taking seventh place.
Athletic Club Bilbao's grip on the standings will tighten considerably if they can beat relegation-haunted Deportivo la Coruna in Saturday's late kick-off. Meanwhile, Granada will look to throw themselves a relegation lifeline at home to bottom of the table Cordoba, who have already been confirmed for the drop, while Almeria look for their third consecutive home win against a Malaga side that looks as if the holidays have already started.
Eibar hope for only their second win in the second half of the season as Espanyol visit Ipurua while Villarreal can assure sixth place if they are able to beat an Elche side who are now safe from relegation.