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La Liga preview: Barca, Real face off in intriguing El Clasico

Real Madrid will be aiming for two wins in the space of five days over arch-rivals Barcelona when they host the La Liga leaders on Saturday.

Real Madrid will be aiming for two wins in the space of five days over arch-rivals Barcelona when they host the La Liga leaders on Saturday.

The reigning Spanish champions stunned Barcelona 3-1 at Camp Nou in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg on Tuesday with Real advancing to the final 4-2 on aggregate.

While victory in Madrid would be unlikely to make much of a difference in the La Liga title race, Real are always keen to inflict punishment on Barcelona, while it would also put pressure on their local rivals Atletico Madrid.

Real have not claimed successive El Clasico victories since the 2007/08 season but were clearly the best team in Tuesday’s clash, making the upcoming match one of the games of the weekend throughout Europe.

If Real win they could move within a point of Atletico, if Diego Simeone’s men lose to fourth-placed Malaga on Sunday.

Simeone has done a brilliant job to keep Atletico ahead of Real for so long this season but he will know the trip to Malaga looms as a major test for his team.

Malaga have won seven of their 13 games at home in La Liga this season and have lost just three but if Atletico cannot manage to take all three points and Real win, the pressure will rise rapidly on Simeone’s team.

La Liga’s Round 26 will begin on Friday with Getafe hosting Real Zaragoza and, apart from El Clasico, Saturday will see a local derby between Valencia and Levante, as well as Deportivo La Coruna versus Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna up against Athletic Bilbao and Granada taking on Mallorca.

In other games, Real Valladolid will travel to Barcelona to play Espanyol, Real Sociedad will welcome Real Betis to San Sebastian and Sevilla will host Celta de Vigo.

Thu 28 February, 2013
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