Matchday 32 preview: Barca, Madrid face tricky away tests as La Liga title race continues

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La Liga’s exciting accelerated end of season programme continues this weekend, with top two Barcelona and Real Madrid both facing tricking away tests along with crucial fixtures in the races for European qualification and against relegation.

Barcelona have been solid at the back as they have taken 10 points from their first four games since the return of La Liga earlier this month. Quique Setien’s team faces another challenge on Saturday afternoon at away at Celta Vigo, where the Blaugrana have picked up just one point across their last four La Liga visits. Celta players Rafinha, Denis Suarez and Nolito, as well as coach Oscar Garcia, all have Barca pasts and come into the game on a high after a convincing 6-0 win over Deportivo Alaves in their last game at Abanca Balaidos.

Real Madrid have also had a strong return to action and Zinedine Zidane’s side will look to again showcase their title credentials when they visit Espanyol on Sunday evening. Los Blancos have the best away record in 2019/20 La Liga Santander so far but hosts Espanyol will need every point they can get to escape the relegation zone and won this fixture 1-0 two seasons ago.

The weekend’s programme kicks off Friday with Sevilla hosting Real Valladolid in a clash of two teams looking to continue excellent returns to action in recent weeks as they look to seal a top four spot and stay clear of the bottom three respectively.

Messi Alba Barcelona

Messi Alba Barcelona

Saturday’s schedule starts with Athletic Club at home to Real Mallorca. The Balearic Islanders last La Liga win at San Mames was back in 2010, but they could really do with another victory now in their battle against the drop.

Osasuna and Leganes have only ever met three times at El Sadar across La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank with Osasuna winning 2-1 on each occasion, but the visitors will need to turn that history around on Saturday if they are to get out of their difficult position in the bottom three.

Atletico Madrid have been on a roll since returning, moving up from sixth to third in the table, with youngsters Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente have been impressing. Diego Simeone’s men will hope to continue that positive run on Saturday evening at home to mid-table Alaves, who have lost on their last two visits to the Wanda Metropolitano.

Levante at home to Real Betis on Sunday brings together two teams who should in theory already be safe from relegation, but Betis’ concerns about their form saw them part company with coach Rubi last weekend.

Villarreal against Valencia is a regional derby with an extra edge on Sunday afternoon given both teams are right in the race for European qualification next season. The Yellow Submarine have risen up the table with 10 points from their four games since the return, while Valencia won the first meeting of the season between these two sides 2-1 last November.

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Just one defeat in their last eight La Liga games has Granada still dreaming of a first ever qualification for the Europa League as they prepare for Sunday’s game at home to Eibar, from whom the nightmare scenario of relegation is still a real possibility despite an improvement in performances since the return from the Covid-19 induced break.

Getafe at home to Real Sociedad rounds off matchday 32 with a clash of two Champions League hopefuls who have restarted inconsistently. Both sides are yet to win since La Liga was resumed in early June and will be keen to put their campaign back on track against a direct rival.

Watch La Liga Santander this weekend on SuperSport 7 and GOtv’s SuperSport Select.

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