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La Liga Preview: Real continue Barca pursuit against Almeria

With home fixtures against bottom-half clubs in midweek, Barcelona and Real Madrid are expected to keep winning and prolong their thrilling La Liga title stoush.

Leaders Barcelona host 13th-placed Getafe, while Real welcome 16th side Almeria to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Should results go to script, Barca will retain their two-point lead heading into the final four games, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side hoping the visitors to Camp Nou can cause an upset.

A slip up from Barca against Pablo Franco Martin’s men at home would not be without precedent, as Getafe struck late to earn a 2-2 draw in Catalonia in May 2014 – a result which dented Barcelona’s title hopes.

Real, however, have a domineering record when up against Almeria.

The capital club have scored 21 goals in their past four fixtures with the Andalusians, who have scored just twice in the same span.

Outscoring Almeria alone in that run were Cristiano Ronaldo (five goals), Gareth Bale, Isco and Karim Benzema (all three).

Set to start again for Real, though, is the in-form Javier Hernandez, who has four goals in his past four matches in all competitions.

“If we win all matches, then Barcelona will have to do it also. That’s our target,” Ancelotti said following Real’s 4-2 win at Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid’s title defence is all but over given their nine-point deficit to Barca with five games to play, but they can move closer to securing UEFA Champions League action when they travel to fellow European aspirants Villarreal.

The latter occupy the final UEFA Europa League spot on 53 points, comfortably clear of seventh-placed Malaga (47) – who could yet receive help from rivals in eighth, Athletic Bilbao (46).

A Bilbao loss in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona on May 30 would render the seventh spot in the league as another European ticket.

Fourth-placed Sevilla (66) are away at Eibar, looking to hold onto the Champions League qualifying place – with Valencia (65) lurking in fifth.

Valencia host Granada on Monday, before backing up on the road at Rayo Vallecano on Thursday.

Granada also play twice in the week, hosting Espanyol the same day.

Other midweek fixtures see Levante host bottom-placed Cordoba, with the latter on the brink of being dumped into the Segunda Division, Celta Vigo welcome Malaga, and Elche and Deportivo La Coruna play a relegation six-pointer.

Mon 27 Apr, 2015
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