LaLiga Matchday 23: Madrid derby match-up for Real and Atleti
Real Madrid's derby clash with Atletico Madrid could have serious implications for both sides in their respective races for the title and a top-four finish.
Barcelona, meanwhile, will hope to maintain or extend their lead at LaLiga's summit when they visit relegation-threatened Almeria.
And third-placed Real Sociedad can capitalise on any dropped points in the Madrid derby if they beat second-bottom Valencia away from home.
Elsewhere, European hopefuls Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano are both in action on the road against strugglers Elche and Cadiz.
Game of the weekend: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Real are in desperate need of points to have any chance of closing the gap to leaders Barcelona, while Atleti must stave off competition for their top-four spot.
Recent history in this fixture has favoured Los Blancos, who have lost just one of the last 13 league editions (six wins, six draws) and have won each of the previous three meetings at home in the competition without conceding.
And they will be boosted by an eye-catching result in midweek after beating Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
If the hosts are to be successful at the Bernabeu on Saturday, Karim Benzema will likely play a significant part. He has scored in three of his last four clashes with the Colchoneros and will be keen to build upon his brace against the Reds.
However, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has won just 28.6% of his LaLiga games against Atleti (two wins, one draw, four defeats) — his joint-lowest win percentage against a single opponent in the competition (with at least two games played).
Almeria vs Barcelona (Sunday, 5.30pm)
On paper, Barcelona should be confident of breezing past Almeria, who only sit above the relegation zone on goal difference.
The Blaugrana are unbeaten in their last 13 LaLiga meetings with the Andalusian club, winning 11 and scoring an average of three goals per game.
Additionally, Xavi's team have won their last seven league games in a row and have conceded just seven goals after 22 league matches — the fewest ever in the competition's history at this stage.
At the other end, the Catalan giants' Robert Lewandowski recently became the second-fastest player to net 15 LaLiga goals this century, doing so in 19 appearances — just two games shy of Cristiano Ronaldo's record.
Barcelona are still reeling from their Europa League exit at the hands of Manchester United on Thursday night, so will be looking to make amends at the Power Horse Stadium.
Valencia vs Real Sociedad (Saturday, 8pm)
Valencia are enduring a nightmare season.
They have only earned 20 points from their 22 games so far, which is their lowest tally at this stage of the competition for 40 years.
Los Che will be wary of the threat posed by Real Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal, who has been directly involved in eight goals across 14 games against them (five goals, three assists).
Furthermore, Takefusa Kubo has hit form of late, scoring twice and registering an assist in his last five league appearances for La Real.
Ruben Baraja's first game ended in defeat against fellow relegation strugglers Getafe, so he may not hold out much hope of beating the division's third-placed side.
Elche vs Real Betis (Friday, 8pm)
Betis sit fifth in LaLiga ahead of Matchday 23, four points off the top four and will hope for a comfortable evening against bottom-of-the-table Elche as they chase a Champions League place.
Los Franjiverdes have a poor recent record against tonight's opponents, winning just one of their last six league clashes (two draws, three defeats) and none of their last four meetings at home (three draws, one defeat).
Pablo Machin's men have the fourth-worst goals conceded per game ratio in Europe's top five leagues (2.05), shipping 45 goals in 22 matches.
Los Verdiblancos striker Borja Iglesias will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing such a porous defence, having scored in each of his two games as a starter against Elche.
Cadiz vs Rayo Vallecano (Saturday, 3.15pm)
Relegation-threatened Cadiz face a tricky visit from sixth-placed Vallecano on Saturday that could dent their quest for survival.
However, the Andalusian club have lost just one of their 22 home meetings with their Madrid-based opponents in all competitions (11 wins, 10 draws) and are unbeaten in their last eight LaLiga games on their own patch (three wins, five draws).
Los Vallecanos have lost just twice in their previous 14 league outings, though (six wins, six draws) and boast the division's top-scoring defender in Florian Lejeune (four).
Furthermore, Rayo striker Raul de Tomas has netted in each of his two league meetings with Cadiz and will be eager to continue that run.
The weekend's other games
Espanyol vs Mallorca (Saturday, 1pm)
Athletic Bilbao vs Girona (Sunday, 1pm)
Celta Vigo vs Real Valladolid (Sunday, 3.15pm)
Sevilla vs Osasuna (Sunday, 8pm)
Villarreal vs Getafe (Monday, 8pm)
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