LaLiga Matchday 22: High-flying Barca set for Cadiz clash
LaLiga leaders Barcelona are flying high and full of confidence ahead of their clash with Cadiz.
Real Madrid are lagging eight points behind and must overcome Osasuna as they seek to close the gap on their title rivals.
Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid make up the rest of the top four and both are in action at home, hosting Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao, respectively.
At the other end of the table, relegation-threatened Valencia prepare for a potentially decisive clash as they visit fellow strugglers Getafe in search of three points to propel them closer to safety.
Game of the weekend: Barcelona vs Cadiz (Sunday, 8pm)
Barcelona come into this meeting with Cadiz in fine form — they are unbeaten in their last 17 matches in all competitions, including Thursday night's 2-2 draw with Manchester United in the Europa League.
In LaLiga, Xavi's men have been superb at the back, keeping more clean sheets (16), conceding fewer goals (seven) and facing fewer shots on target (50) than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Barca striker Robert Lewandowski scored and laid on two assists in his first meeting with Sunday’s opponents, but has found the net only once in his last five outings.
Cadiz head coach Sergio Gonzalez’s record against the Catalan giants leaves much to be desired — he has been beaten in nine of his 10 LaLiga clashes against them (one win).
Osasuna vs Real Madrid (Saturday, 8pm)
Real may have ground to make up on the league leaders but they will be confident coming into this match against Osasuna.
Los Blancos have not lost to Saturday’s hosts in any of their last 15 meetings (10 wins, five draws), winning three of their last four away clashes in the competition.
Osasuna are in poor form too, mustering just one win in their last eight league outings (four draws, three defeats).
No team has scored more goals from outside the box in the top five European leagues this season than Carlo Ancelotti's visitors (12) with Real midfielder Federico Valverde netting five such strikes.
Real Sociedad vs Celta Vigo (Saturday, 1pm)
Sociedad recovered from a brief blip last time out to consolidate third place in the table.
And a visit from Celta should bring another victory, as La Real have beaten their next opponents in each of their last five meetings.
Mikel Oyarzabal will be hoping to add to his tally of five goal involvements in 12 LaLiga appearances against Los Celestes — his joint-highest record against a single opponent in the competition.
However, Carlos Carvalhal boasts Iago Aspas in his ranks. The former Liverpool forward has netted 10 times in league competition against Sociedad, only managing as many against Barcelona and Sevilla.
Atletico Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao (Sunday, 5.30pm)
After enduring an inconsistent campaign, Atleti have begun to enjoy a strong run of results, having gone unbeaten in their last five league matches (three wins, two draws).
Diege Simeone's side must be careful to avoid any more disciplinary issues when they meet Bilbao, however, having already been shown six red cards after 21 games — their highest tally since 2007-08.
Both sides will be relying on their talismanic forwards — Atleti will trust that Antoine Griezmann can add to his tally of 10 LaLiga goals against the Basque opposition, his second-highest record against a single opponent in the competition.
Meanwhile, Athletic will look to Inaki Williams, who has been directly involved in each of their last four goals at Atleti (three goals, one assist).
Getafe vs Valencia (Monday, 8pm)
Valencia find themselves in the relegation zone with 21 games played and are in serious danger of going down.
Los Che’s clash with Getafe — who sit one point and one place below them in 19th — is a crucial fixture as they seek survival.
Both sides are in woeful form — Getafe are winless in six (two draws, four defeats) while Valencia’s own wait for a victory stretches to seven (one draw, six defeats). Securing all three points could be vital to either team’s chances of staving off the drop.
Ruben Baraja, who won two LaLiga titles with Valencia in his playing days, will take the reins of his former club for the first time having being named as Gennaro Gattuso's successor on Valentine's Day.
The weekend's other games
Girona vs Almeria (Friday, 8pm)
Real Betis vs Real Valladolid (Saturday, 3.15pm)
Mallorca vs Villarreal (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Elche vs Espanyol (Sunday, 1pm)
Rayo Vallecano vs Sevilla (Sunday, 3.15pm)
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