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Sevilla are mounting a late charge for the LaLiga title
Sevilla are mounting a late charge for the LaLiga title

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Sevilla’s five-match winning run has transformed the battle for LaLiga’s top spot into a four-horse race, with just three points separating Los Palanganas and leaders Atletico Madrid.

Sandwiched between them are Real Madrid and Barcelona, who will be hoping to edge ahead of their title rivals when another fascinating round of action gets under way this weekend.

Things are just as tense at the bottom, where five teams are still fighting it out for survival — meaning there is plenty on the line as we enter the season’s final furlong.

Friday's game

Celta Vigo vs Levante (8pm)

Elche vs Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 3.15pm)

Atletico face a tough trip to the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, where they will come up against an Elche side scraping to avoid the drop.

Los Franjiverdes’ hopes of another season in LaLiga have been boosted by last weekend’s victory over Levante but they will have a tough job breaking down Atleti’s remarkably resilient defence.

No team has conceded fewer goals than Diego Simeone’s outfit (22), while Elche have had the fewest shots (6.73) and created the lowest number of chances (4.7) per 90 minutes in Spain’s top flight.

Real Madrid vs Osasuna (Saturday, 8pm)

Karim Benzema has been in sublime goalscoring form for Real Madrid
Karim Benzema has been in sublime goalscoring form for Real Madrid

Real Madrid will be looking to extend their 13-match unbeaten run in LaLiga — but Los Blancos need to start turning draws into wins if their title challenge is to remain on track.

Stalemates with Getafe and Real Betis in the past month have seen them fall two points behind leaders Atletico — and Osasuna’s defence will provide another stern test for Real’s faltering frontline.

Their 1.18 goals conceded per 90 minutes is inside Spain’s top eight teams, so Zinedine Zidane’s side may need the unstoppable Karim Benzema to get them out of trouble once again.

The Frenchman's nine strikes account for 64% of Madrid’s league goals since the beginning of March.

Saturday's other games

Eibar vs Alaves (1pm)
Huesca vs Real Sociedad (5.30pm)

Real Valladolid vs Real Betis (Sunday, 1pm)

A remarkable five straight draws have left Betis clinging on to LaLiga’s final Europa League spot, with Villarreal now hot on the tails of Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

But Valladolid will be just as desperate for the points given they sit precariously perched above the relegation trapdoor on goal difference.

Expect this one to be a tense, low-scoring affair.

Top scorers Sergio Canales (Betis) and Fabian Orellana (Valladolid) have a combined total of just 14 goals between them, while both clubs are inside the division’s top 10 sides for goals conceded (both 1.36 per 90 minutes).

Valencia vs Barcelona (Sunday, 8pm)

Barcelona's Lionel Messi leads the LaLiga scoring charts
Barcelona's Lionel Messi leads the LaLiga scoring charts

Barcelona have won 15 of their 18 league matches since the turn of the year, so it would take a brave man to bet against the Blaugrana picking up maximum points.

Though their 2-1 midweek defeat to Granada will have been a shock to the system, Barca are still the division’s top scorers (2.33) and chance creators (12.18) per 90 minutes.

They have also allowed the fewest shots against them from inside their own box (5.42 per 90 minutes) in 2020-21.

Things could not be more different at Valencia, who have not won in five matches and sit in a disappointing 14th place.

They have conceded the most shots from inside (8.79) and outside (5.24) their area per 90 this season, which will have Barca’s top scorer Lionel Messi (16 goals) licking his lips ahead of Sunday’s encounter.

Sunday's other games

Villarreal vs Getafe (3.15pm)
Granada vs Cadiz (5.30pm)

Sevilla vs Athletic Club (Monday, 8pm)

Sevilla remain outsiders to lift the LaLiga trophy but their sublime run of form has certainly put the cat among the pigeons at the top of the table.

Their match against Athletic Club is a meeting of the division's two most defensively resilient sides, with Sevilla’s expected goals against (xGA) a mere 0.94 per 90 this season, while Athletic's is a similarly impressive 0.98.

No clubs in Spain’s top flight can boast a better record in that particular metric, suggesting goalscoring opportunities could be at a premium at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

If Los Palanganas are to get past the visitors, they may need the continued brilliance of Youssef En-Nesyri to maintain their title challenge — the Moroccan frontman has 17 goals for the season and two in his last three games.

Tags

ElcheAthletic BilbaoOsasunaReal ValladolidReal BetisValenciaBarcelonaSevillaAtletico MadridReal Madrid

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