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La Liga weekend preview

A look ahead to the weekend's action in Spain's La Liga, including Saturday's El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Last Updated: 25/10/13 at 15:36 Post Comment

Gareth Bale: May start at the Nou Camp

Gareth Bale: May start at the Nou Camp

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has hinted Gareth Bale could start Saturday's El Clasico at the Nou Camp.

The world's most expensive player came on as a second-half substitute in the Champions League win over Juventus on Wednesday night as he continued his comeback from a thigh injury and was largely ineffective.

But he appears in line to experience his first Primera Division clash against Barcelona.

On Bale, Ancelotti said on www.realmadrid.com: "He came when the match had no intensity, no team's play did not help him to play better.

"It is important for him to get match time, his fitness is better and he is ready to play a match now.

"Bale likes to play on the right and when he plays he will play there."

Madrid go into the clash having closed the gap at the top to three points thanks to their their 2-0 win over Malaga last weekend.

Barcelona were held to a goalless draw by Osasuna and lead the table by a point from Atletico Madrid, who lost to Espanyol.

And Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas wants to cash in on last weekend's results by taking more points off their title rivals.

He said: "We have to take advantage of what happened in the last match. A win would put us joint first, depending on what Atletico Madrid do (they host Real Betis on Sunday).

"We have to go with the idea of winning the match and playing good football."

Last weekend's draw was the first time Barca have dropped points in the league this season, but Madrid have now won their last four games in all competitions and Sergio Ramos wants that run to continue.

"Real Madrid are improving throughout the year, match by match, which is how we have done well," he said.

"The gap is not very big and, as things are, our fate is in our own hands.

"On Saturday we have an important match and it would be a big step to win in the Camp Nou, but the matches there are tough and we know that anything can happen. With the Clasico, you can't look at recent results.

"They will always go out there to give their best in this type of match. There are things that we need to keep improving, but it always good to get a win before a Clasico."

Barcelona drew for the second time in four days in midweek as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw at AC Milan.

Neymar is relishing his first taste of the Clasico atmosphere.

He told the club's website: "The Clasico is the most important game for any player.

"It's the match every player wants to play in, it's the game where each player wants to play his best football.

"This will be my first Clasico and I hope to have a great debut, preferably with a victory.

"I think the anxiety is the same before any match. I understand that we're talking about a very important Clasico, but I think that butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling is the same before any game."

Should Barcelona fail to win, Atletico will have the chance to take over at the top should they beat Betis the following day.

Diego Simeone's side bounced back from their first league loss with a comprehensive 3-0 Champions League win away to Austria Vienna and they will be confident of another victory at home to a Betis side hovering above the relegation zone.

Also on Sunday, fourth-placed Villarreal will look to bounce back from their 2-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao with victory at home to Valencia, basement boys Almeria go in search of their first win at Real Sociedad and Sevilla host Osasuna.

The weekend's action starts on Friday when Rayo Vallecano welcome Real Valladolid.

On Saturday, Malaga are at home to Celta Vigo, Elche host Granada and Levante entertain Espanyol.

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