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Primera Liga weekend preview

Barcelona could ease the pain of their Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich this weekend by clinching their 22nd Spanish title.

Last Updated: 04/05/13 at 11:57 Post Comment

Barcelona: Hoping to celebrate their title success

Barcelona: Hoping to celebrate their title success

Barca's hopes of winning a fourth European Cup crown in eight years were left in tatters as Bayern followed up their 4-0 semi-final first leg victory with a similarly impressive triumph at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night to complete a 7-0 aggregate win.

Tito Vilanova's men will now be hoping to banish that painful memory as soon as they can and the Primera Division offers them the perfect chance to do just that.

They go into this weekend's fixtures lying 11 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid with five games remaining, knowing a victory at home to Real Betis on Sunday combined with a Madrid slip-up against Real Valladolid on Saturday will win them the title.

Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta said: "The league is very close. The other day I said a season couldn't be a bad one if you win the league. Hopefully we can win it as soon as possible to once again have the feeling of happiness."

On their Champions League exit, the Spain international added: "The reality hurts. It hurts us not to have been at the level we needed to be."

Barca could have claimed the Primera Division title last weekend if results had gone their way, but they were held 2-2 at Athletic Bilbao while Madrid subsequently trimmed the gap between the pair by two points with a 2-1 derby win at Atletico Madrid.

Jose Mourinho's men may be resigned to losing their league crown while their own Champions League bid ended in disappointment this week with defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, but that does not mean they will be coasting through to the end of the season.

They still have the Copa del Rey final against Atletico to look forward while in La Liga they want to make Barca earn the title.

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas said: "We need to try and get as many points as possible in the league, for the club and for the team. And then fight for the Copa del Rey, which will be a different final, nice, at the Bernabeu, and we need to try and win it for the fans, who deserve some joy."

In the race for the final two Champions League spots, Atletico look to have third place sewn up as they travel to 17th-placed Deportivo La Coruna boasting a 10-point advantage over Real Sociedad in fourth.

Sociedad, who go to Getafe on Monday, are in turn five points clear of Malaga and Valencia in fifth and sixth as the Basque club seek a top-four finish in La Liga for the first time since 2003.

Malaga and Valencia both face teams battling relegation this weekend, taking on Granada and Osasuna respectively.

Granada and Osasuna are two of six clubs separated by five points at the foot of the table as the fight to avoid the drop reaches its climax.

Real Mallorca currently prop up the standings on 28 points but they host a Levante side this weekend who have suffered four successive defeats.

The other two teams in the bottom three, two points above Mallorca, are Real Zaragoza and Celta Vigo.

Zaragoza play host to eighth-placed Rayo Vallecano on Sunday while Celta, who have beaten Zaragoza and Levante in their last two matches, meet Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.

This weekend's other match pits Sevilla against mid-table rivals Espanyol.

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think that puts all doubts over Benteke's quality to bed. Can he do it after receiving the ball to feet, in the box, totally unmarked, on a warm, sunny afternoon in Swindon? Oh yes he can! This year is definitely Liverpool's year. YNWA.

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ll very well selling all midfield and strikers but unless we bring anyone in that is better than what we had then it will be a terrible transfer window in my view. Sorted out the defense but our midfield and striker options look very light.

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ove it when Jose accuses others of being defensive, cynical and playing to win. If I was Wenger, I'd get that quote laminated and framed - surely the biggest compliment he's ever received from Mourinho. You've got him riled Arsene - you're relevant again!

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