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La Liga preview: Barca on alert at Villarreal

After much deliberation, the weekend’s La Liga fixtures are set to go ahead, with leaders Barcelona facing a tough test away to Villarreal.

A majority of Spanish top flight clubs had agreed to boycott the weekend’s fixtures in return for the Spanish government rescinding a rule that ensures at least one game of football is shown on free-to-air TV per match day.

The league were also behind the proposed strike – but six breakaway clubs including Sevilla, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza and Espanyol successfully challenged to ensure play would get underway this weekend.

Juan Garrido’s Villarreal would no doubt be keen to tackle Spanish football’s benchmark – Barcelona – in their Camp El Madrigal surrounds, and in winning form which has seen them beat Bundesliga powerhouse Bayer Leverkusen (Europa League) and Athletic Bilbao away in their past two.

Real Madrid are in action earlier on Saturday, when they host 15th placed Sporting Gijon.

Real can cut the gap on Pep Guardiola’s side to two points on the table, prior to the Catalans’ later kick off.

Sporting will be no pushover for Jose Mourinho and his side, as they have gone unbeaten in their past three, including wins over Almeria and Getafe, and an away draw with Villarreal.

Getafe are without a win in seven matches, and host a Valencia side that has lost four of their past five in all competitions, meaning points will be a valued commodity when they clash at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

In action on Sunday, fifth placed Espanyol host 14th side Racing Santander at the Estadi Cornella El Prat, with the home side having played in just one draw all season – and it just happened to be the last time these teams clashed in November.

Real Sociedad are without a win in five, but have the ideal chance to arrest that statistic when they host bottom club Hercules at the Estadio Municipal de Anoeta.

Malaga travel to Levante, Deportivo La Coruna host Mallorca, Sevilla welcome Real Zaragoza and Osasuna take on Atletico Madrid in Sunday’s other clashes.

Thu 31 March, 2011
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