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La Liga preview: Finish line in sight for Barca

SoccerNews in La Liga 22 Apr 2011

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Barcelona can take a big step towards a third successive La Liga title on Saturday when they welcome struggling Osasuna to the Nou Camp.

Pep Guardiola’s men are eight points clear of Real Madrid on top of the league table with just six games to play, and they will no doubt have been stung by their 1-0 loss to Jose Mourinho’s side in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final.

In a blow for the reigning champions, defender Adriano has been ruled out of action for four weeks after injuring a hamstring in the cup defeat.

Osasuna are sure to be fighting tooth and nail, having lost their past three matches to leave them sitting just two points outside the drop zone in 16th position.

Real Madrid kept their slim title chances alive thanks to a late penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo that salvaged them a 1-1 draw against Barca at the Bernabeu last weekend, and they will face another stern test on Saturday against third-placed Valencia.

Saturday’s other match pits fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao against 12th-placed Real Sociedad who are just five points clear of the bottom three.

Bilbao are in pole position for one of two Europa League places for next season, and they have a two-point cushion over sixth-placed Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, with eighth-placed Espanyol a further point behind.

On Sunday, Atletico – the 2009-10 Europa League champions – take on a Levante side who have won eight of their past 12 games to sit in ninth place, while Sevilla welcome fourth-placed Villarreal to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Espanyol face a tricky trip to Sporting Gijon and Getafe travel to Mallorca.

At the bottom of the table, a loss for Almeria at Real Zaragoza would make their La Liga survival incredibly difficult, while second bottom Hercules host Deportivo La Coruna.

Malaga, who are outside the drop zone by just goal difference, travel to Racing Santander.

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