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La Liga preview: Capital derby takes centre stage

The Madrid derby headlines this weekend’s La Liga action, and there is much more at stake than local bragging rights.

Saturday’s match marks the first high-profile Madrid derby of the season, and Atletico Madrid will be supremely confident of upsetting Real Madrid as their assault on this season’s title gathers momentum.

The two sides square off on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu with Atletico finding themselves in the unusual position of being the side currently ahead in the table.

Atletico have dropped just four points all season while their fierce rivals have already succumbed to three losses, the latest one taking place over the weekend away at Real Betis.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s tapering form is partly to blame for Real’s woes.

The 27-year-old has failed to find the net in his past two games for his club. While that doesn’t mean he is in crisis, goals will nevertheless take some pressure off his shoulders.

The key man for Atletico is Radamel Falcao.

The striker is in red-hot form, with 10 goals to his name so far. With a number of big European sides reportedly ready to win his signature, a good showing against Atletico will only increase his already high stock further.

Real boast a league of international stars and are widely considered as one of the best teams in European football but that won’t stop Atletico daring to secure all three points.

Getafe’s home clash on Saturday against fourth-place Malaga looms as another table-shaping encounter.

Malaga are on 22 points after they thrashed Valencia 4-0 last weekend and will be desperate to keep pace with the league leaders. But they will face a stiff challenge from seventh-placed Getafe, who looked unstoppable as they romped to a 2-0 win over Espanyol last start.

Other Week 14 highlights include a mid-table match between Valencia and Real Sociedad at the Mestalla.

Leaders Barcelona, fresh off a Lionel Messi-inspired 4-0 win at Levante, host Athletic Bilbao on Saturday while other lopsided affairs include fifth-placed Real Betis’ trip to lowly Deportivo La Coruna and Levante’s meeting with strugglers Celta de Vigo.

Out-of-form Granada have the chance to snare a rare victory against bottom club Espanyol on Sunday and later that afternoon Mallorca’s clash with Real Zaragoza promises to be a hard-fought affair.

The weekend kicks off with a Friday night clash between 19th-placed Osasuna and Rayo Vallecano at Reyno de Navarra, while Sevilla host Real Valladolid to close the round on Monday night.

Thu 29 Nov, 2012
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