Monday 23 October 2017 / 11:21 AM

Weekend Ahead in Spain

Rampant La Liga leaders Barcelona visit relegation battling Celta Vigo this weekend who will be desperate for a result with time running out on their fight for survival.

After a hapless 3-1 defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Deportivo prior to the international break, Os Celestes remain firmly entrenched in the drop zone and are three points from safety going into Saturday’s daunting clash against the Catalan giants who will be looking to at least maintain their 13 point buffer over second placed Real Madrid.

With a hugely important Champions League quarter-final tie against PSG looming in midweek, Barca boss Tito Villanova may opt to rest a number of his major stars – especially as they will be returning from various World Cup Qualifying engagements.

Celta will undoubtedly be hoping that is the case and despite the whopping 51 point gap between the two sides in the table, the hosts could well fancy their chances of springing a potential shock – especially if they can reproduce their recent effort at home to Real where they were unlucky to be beaten 1-2.

That win for Madrid came amidst a blistering run of form which is still continuing going into round 29.

Los Merengues have triumphed on their last six La Liga outings and a seventh victory should be on the cards for Jose Mourinho’s men on Saturday when they take on a plummeting Real Zaragoza at La Rosaleda.

The visit of Real could hardly have arrived at a worse time for Blanquillos who are precariously placed to say the least in 17th following their woeful 4-0 thumping against Sevilla a fortnight ago.

Zaragoza fans will be praying that the international intermission has given manager Manolo Jimenez a chance to rejuvenate his deflated squad however it will take a season’s best effort to halt the Madrid juggernaut which will be eager to gather speed ahead of the clubs’ Champions League showdown with Galatasaray on Wednesday evening.

Rayo Vallecano vs. Malaga and Levante vs. Sevilla complete the action on Saturday, whilst on Sunday, third and fourth placed sides Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad face testing fixtures against Valencia and Espanyol respectively.

Atletico appear to be comfortable in the Champions League qualifying berths on 60 points but their recent inconsistency could hand the initiative to a hungry Valencia team who are just two points off the top four.

Ernesto Valverde’s side are directly shooting at Sociedad and the Basque outfit will know that they must keep winning in order to hold off their challenge with ten games remaining.

Also on Sunday, Mallorca and Deportivo square off in a crucial ‘six point’ encounter at the Iberostar Stadium whilst Valladolid and Osasuna seek to consolidate their mid table positions at Jose Zorrilla.

The Easter round of fixtures draw to a close on Monday as Bilbao host Granada at San Mames whilst Real Betis welcome a Getafe side in search of a fifth win in six to the Benito Villamarin.

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Chris Kisby

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