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La Liga weekend preview

Barcelona will attempt to wrestle back the spotlight that Real Madrid have been commanding for the past 24 hours when they take on city rivals Espanyol at the Nou Camp on Friday night.

Last Updated: 01/11/13 at 08:03 Post Comment

Barcelona: Looking to continue their fine form against Espanyol

Barcelona: Looking to continue their fine form against Espanyol

A 3-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Tuesday night had seen Barca take centre stage until they were eclipsed by Real on Wednesday when Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick guided them to a stunning 7-3 win over Sevilla.

However, while such a result inevitably dominated the back pages it cannot alter the fact the defending champions are four points clear of Atletico Madrid - who have a game in hand - and a further two in front of Real.

This can be extended even further on Friday when they take on Espanyol, who are 16 points adrift of their hosts in eighth.

Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla insists the players know "how important the derby against Barcelona is" but of whether he feared Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi or Neymar the most, the keeper retorted: "I have total respect and they are high-level players, although none frightens me.

"If you're afraid, you stay home ."

Real have been riding high since their 10-goal thriller at the Bernabeu on Wednesday which, as well as bearing witness to Ronaldo's treble, saw Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema both score twice.

Los Blancos next face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, a team who have won three and lost eight of their 11 matches this season before they pay a trip to Turin to meet Juventus with the Spanish team enjoying a 100 per cent record at the top of their Champions League group.

Bale, who commanded a world-record transfer fee of 100 million euros when he moved from Tottenham last month, said: "It's a very exciting time. We have big matches ahead and everyone's looking forward to them.

"We're feeling very confident and hopefully we can keep winning and giving performances like tonight's."

In Saturday's other matches, Sevilla will look to bounce back from their Bernabeu mauling when they host Celta Vigo, Real Sociedad face Osasuna and bottom side Almeria will look to add to their first victory of the season.

Almeria came from a goal down to beat Valencia 2-1 to bring to an end a run of five successive losses and now coach Francisco has called on them to repeat that feat when they host Valladolid.

He said: "We needed a win like this to continue working with optimism because we believe in what we are doing even though the results have not been with us.

"Now what we have to do is think of Valladolid and get the three points. This has just started... ahead we have a complicated and difficult path that we hope to overcome with the support of all."

Sunday's matches see Atletico aim to keep up the pressure with a home against Athletic Bilbao, Valencia attempt to respond to their Almeria defeat at Getafe, Levante take on Granada and Malaga face Real Betis.

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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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