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PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB

Leaders face tough trip to Pamplona

Real Madrid lost against Osasuna in Pamplona last year and then the Basque team was struggling to fight off the relegation threat, but this season, Mourinho’s men will face a much improved team, who sit in sixth and are on a run of six consecutive games without a defeat. Madrid might welcome back Di Maria after a long lay off, though they will be without the suspended Pepe and ill Khedira,whilst Nekounam is back from suspension for the hosts.

Valencia derby

Valencia’s poor run continued with a European defeat in midweek and they really need to find some form again for their city derby with fifth place Levante, who are just three points behind them. The game promises to be a real test for Emery’s men, who were booed off by the Mestalla fans after their last home game ended in defeat by Zaragoza. Sandwiched between the two Valencia clubs are Malaga, who play Andalusia neighbours Betis on Saturday.

Atletico, Seville and Espanyol aim to stay in touch

There’s another city derby at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday lunchtime, as Atletico Madrid attempt to get their European challenge back on track against neighbours Getafe, who are level on 39 points with Simeone’s team. Espanyol(40 points) and Seville(39) also both needing wins away to Villarreal and at home to Mallorca respectively.

Key games at the bottom

It’s a crunch weekend at the bottom too: Zaragoza need to build on their great run of late when they travel to Gijon to meet Sporting, who like Racing are tied with them on 25 points. According to Zaragoza boss Manolo Jimenez: “whoever loses will be really damaged – it’s going to be such a tense match”. Racing have their own six-pointer at home to 17th place Granada, who sit just ahead of the relegation places on 31 points.


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