LaLiga Matchday 34: Real target title in Espanyol clash
LiveScore are the exclusive global sponsors of LaLiga's Replay 360° technology.
As the LaLiga season reaches Matchday 34, Real Madrid can taste the title — Carlo Ancelotti’s side need just a point against Espanyol on Saturday afternoon to be crowned champions.
Elsewhere this weekend, there is an all-Andalucian affair between two teams with interests at opposite ends of the table as Sevilla entertain Cadiz.
Atletico Madrid will be looking to strengthen their position in the top four when they travel to take on Athletic Bilbao, while Barcelona host Mallorca on Sunday night.
Game of the week: Real Madrid vs Espanyol (Saturday, 3.15pm)
For Real, the task could not be simpler. Ancelotti’s men must avoid defeat to claim LaLiga title number 35 — and they will hope to do so by making it 11 wins from 14 games.
But Espanyol will be out to delay the celebrations as they chase only a fourth-ever double over Los Blancos, the most recent of which came in the 1995-96 season.
Real are unbeaten in 24 home league encounters with the Periquitos though, winning 21 of those matches and keeping a clean sheet in the last six.
The visitors might see their manager’s record against Real as a good omen, however. Only Diego Simeone (four) has overseen more victories against them in the last 10 seasons than Vicente Moreno’s two.
Karim Benzema netted a brace in Tuesday's 4-3 Champions League defeat at Manchester City and will expect to continue his stunning recent form having been involved in 10 goals in his last 10 LaLiga games against Espanyol.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Barcelona vs Mallorca (Sunday, 8pm)
Barcelona go into this encounter on the verge of suffering four straight home losses in all competitions for the first time in their history.
However, the Catalans will be reassured by the fact that Mallorca have only won on one of their last 11 LaLiga visits to the Camp Nou — of which they have lost nine.
In fact, the Blaugrana are on an eight-match winning streak in the league against Mallorca and last dropped points when playing them in October 2010.
Ominously, visiting boss Javier Aguirre has not won on any of his 12 LaLiga trips to the Camp Nou — last taking anything from Barca in December 2006 while in charge of Atleti.
Luuk de Jong’s first-half header proved enough for Xavi's men to pick up all three points in January’s reverse fixture.
Sevilla vs Cadiz (Friday, 8pm)
Sevilla have never lost a home league encounter to Cadiz and will be determined to keep it that way as they look to put further distance between themselves and the division’s other top four contenders.
Cadiz have not won any of their last nine LaLiga meetings with the hosts — losing five of those — but they do go into this clash on their longest away unbeaten run in Andalucian derbies since 1989.
Sevilla boast the division's best defensive record but they have conceded in four consecutive league outings for the first time since January last year.
As for the away side, their surprise 1-0 win at Barca earlier this month saw them keep their fourth away clean sheet since the turn of the year — the joint-most in the division along with the Blaugrana.
Lucas Ocampos’ second-half strike was enough to secure a 1-0 triumph for Julen Lopetegui's side when these sides last met in January.
Granada vs Celta Vigo (Sunday, 3.15pm)
If Granada are to capitalise on Cadiz potentially dropping points, they will have to do something they have only managed once in their last 14 attempts — beat Celta Vigo.
Having not conceded a goal in any of their last four trips to Nuevo Los Carmenes, the visitors could keep five successive away clean sheets against a single LaLiga opponent for the very first time.
The hosts will be desperately hoping to bring that run to an end though as they try to avoid equalling their longest-ever top-flight home winless streak (eight games).
But they could do without leaving it late. No team has let in a lower proportion of their total goals conceded this term in the final 15 minutes of matches than the Sky Blues (16%).
Celta came out on top when these sides last met back in September, with Denis Suarez dramatically netting the game’s only goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 8pm)
Atleti head to Bilbao trying to avoid a third straight defeat in the Basque country — a result which could see them clinging on to fourth spot by a single point come the end of Matchday 34.
The hosts have not lost any of their last three home matches against Diego Simeone’s side however, winning two.
That said, the Colchoneros have transformed their form lately — winning seven of their last nine LaLiga games, having won only three of the previous 10.
Intriguingly, almost half (10) of Bilbao's last 21 home league goals against Atleti have come via headers. They have only scored more such goals against three teams (Real Betis, Levante and Espanyol) since the 2003-04 campaign.
September’s reverse fixture finished 0-0, in a game that was most notable because of a second-half red card for Joao Felix.
The weekend’s other games
Alaves vs Villarreal (Saturday, 1pm)
Valencia vs Levante (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Elche vs Osasuna (Sunday, 1pm)
Rayo Vallecano vs Real Sociedad (Sunday, 5.30pm)
Getafe vs Real Betis (Monday, 8pm)