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It could not be tighter at the top of LaLiga — and shock leaders Real Sociedad will be looking to maintain their position at the summit when they face Osasuna on Sunday.
That leaves capital rivals Real and Atletico Madrid seeking wins against Rayo Vallecano and Valencia respectively, as they bid to re-assert their status as Spain’s top sides amid Barcelona’s struggles.
The weekend’s action concludes with the derby clash between Real Betis and Sevilla, where local bragging rights will be on the line at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Game of the week: Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano (Saturday, 8pm)
Free-scoring Madrid already have an eye-catching 26 league goals to their name this season, finding themselves a point behind leaders Sociedad with a game in hand.
City rivals Rayo are enjoying an impressive campaign of their own though, sitting sixth in the table and just four points behind Los Blancos — though they have also played a game more.
Radamel Falcao’s goal in Rayo’s 1-0 win against Barcelona last month prompted the Catalan club to sack manager Ronald Koeman.
Though there will be no such repercussions at Real should they lose, a statement win is needed to lay down a marker and remind their rivals who the top dogs in Spain are.
Here are the other games to look out for this weekend…
Celta Vigo vs Barcelona (Saturday, 3.15pm)
Managerless Barcelona face the unthinkable prospect of going into the international break 12 points off the pace in LaLiga if they lose at Celta Vigo.
They will be without Sergio Aguero for this match after the forward suffered chest pains against Alaves last week — he is expected to be out for at least the next three months.
It means that attacking responsibilities will once again fall to Memphis Depay but he will be ably supported by hot prospect Ansu Fati.
The 19-year-old prodigy rescued Barcelona in midweek, scoring the only goal in their game against Dynamo Kyiv.
With club legend Xavi expected to be confirmed as Koeman's replacement, the squad will be eager to impress their incoming coach.
Valencia vs Atletico Madrid (Sunday, 3.15pm)
Valencia’s inconsistency this season has led to a balanced but unwanted record of four wins, four draws and four defeats.
Even their goals scored (18) and goals conceded (17) almost cancel each other out, giving them a positive goal difference of just one.
The visit of Atleti suggests an extra number will be added to the losses column.
Los Che have not beaten Sunday’s opponents since 2014, subsequently recording eight losses and five draws against the side from the capital.
Atleti can go top with a win, in the unlikely event that Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Sevilla all lose this weekend.
Diego Simeone's men will look to bounce back from a midweek Champions League defeat at Liverpool.
Osasuna vs Real Sociedad (Sunday, 5.30pm)
League leaders Real Sociedad will be looking to keep the pressure on their fellow title challengers when they make the short trip to Osasuna.
But the home side sit in a respectable seventh place and will present a tough test for their high-flying visitors.
Osasuna are without a win in three but proved resolute in a recent goalless draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Sociedad have only lost once all season but have drawn three of their last five.
Imanol Alguacil’s men will be desperate to prove that they have what it takes to last the distance in 2021-22.
Real Betis vs Sevilla (Sunday, 8pm)
Although El Clasico attracts more headlines globally, the meeting between Betis and Sevilla is perhaps the most heated rivalry in Spain.
Both sides go into this derby encounter in good shape, with Sevilla level on points with Real Madrid in second place and Betis just three points behind.
Los Verdiblancos have home advantage on this occasion but it will be tough for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to overcome a team who have the joint-best defensive record in the league.
Both clubs have scored 19 times so far this season — only Real have scored more — which should make for a scintillating match-up in Andalusia on Sunday night.
The weekend’s other games
Athletic Bilbao vs Cadiz (Friday, 8pm)
Espanyol vs Granada (Saturday, 1pm)
Alaves vs Levante (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Villarreal vs Getafe (Sunday, 1pm)
Mallorca vs Elche (Sunday, 5.30pm)