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El Classico dominates La Liga weekend

Posted on Oct 04, 02:49PM | IANS

Although there are several fascinating and tense matches on offer this weekend, the 'El Classico' between Spanish giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is dominating football news.

The game in Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium Sunday night is hugely important for Real Madrid, whose form is improving after a poor start to the season which saw them drop eight points in their opening matches, reports Xinhua.

Barcelona have a 100 percent record this season and have the chance to open an 11-point gap over their bitter rivals. Although 11 points may not be decisive after just seven matches, it would present a huge challenge to Madrid, who have never overturned an eight point deficit against Barca.

Madrid travel to Barcelona with their full squad, while Barca have problems in central defence with Gerard Pique still out and Carles Puyol dislocating his elbow in his side's Champions League win against Benfica Tuesday night.

That will see Alex Song and Javier Mascherano play in the heart of the Barca defence and Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and company will fancy their chances of scoring at least one goal away from home.

Should Barca fail to win, Atletico Madrid could go top of the table Sunday night. Atletico are also unbeaten this season and are just two points behind Barca in the league with a slightly worse goal difference.

A win for Atletico at home against Malaga and a defeat for Barca would assure Atletico the leadership. But it will not be easy against the Malaga side which is another team yet to lose a match. Malaga are currently third in the league table and should they win in the Vicente Calderon Stadium, they would leapfrog Atletico into second place.

The weekend kicks off Saturday with fourth placed Sevilla playing away against Celta Vigo, who have won their last two home matches. Sevilla are without suspended Gary Medel, who was sent off last weekend.

Saturday also sees Rayo at home against Deportivo la Coruna, a match between two teams who have lost their last two matches, while Zaragoza will look to make good their recent home form against Getafe.

Valladolid aim to carry the feel-good factor from their 6-1 thrashing of Rayo last Sunday into their home match against bottom of the table Espanyol, who have just one point this campaign.

The day ends with Real Sociedad looking for their first home points of the season away against Betis.

Sunday kicks off with the Valencia derby between Levante and Valencia.

Mauricio Pellegrino, the Valencia coach, has had some pressure lifted after successive home wins as his side defeated Zaragoza and then Lille in the Champions League, while Levante rested players for their Europa League tie Thursday.

Mallorca aim to return to winning ways at home when they take on Granada, while both Athletic Club Bilbao and Osasuna look for points to climb out of the relegation zone as they clash in San Mames.

The atmosphere at Athletic is far from good and the Athletic fans will be hoping coach Marcelo Bielsa and striker Fernando Llorente can patch up the differences which are clearly not helping the club.