Attention turns back to domestic matters for the Spanish natives after their 2 most reputable clubs played out their Champions League commitments with mixed fortunes. Barcelona who are edging past Real Madrid in the league also had more joy in Europe with a convincing 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich.
Meanwhile, the current Champions League holders left Juventus with a 2-1 defeat. It brought up the old saga of who is better out of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi after their respective displays with the latter stealing all the headlines. Real Sociedad and Valencia supporters will be able to voice their opinions this weekend on the debate.
Barcelona v Real Sociedad
One of the biggest shocks of the season was when David Moyes’ side scored an extremely early goal against Barcelona in the reverse fixture to seal a 1-0 victory over the Catalan club. However, at the Nou Camp, Sociedad have lost their last 13 consecutive matches and it’s clearly a ground that they don’t perform well in.
Barcelona will be overwhelming favourites to comfortably see off their opponents and it comes as no surprise considering they’ve won 6 on the bounce, conceded 0 and scored 23 goals in the process.
The Catalan giants will be without French defender, Jeremy Mathieu who is nursing a damaged Achilles tendon that will rule him out. It is unlikely Luis Enrique will tinker too much from the side that beat Bayern Munich 3-0 midweek in the Champions League but Andres Iniesta could be rested. Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi will be out to add to their 111 goals they have between them in all competitions.
For Sociedad, Mikel Gonzalez is out of contention through suspension whilst David Zurutuza is out through injury. Chory Castro is a doubt on the left hand side of midfield but Carlos Vela has recently returned to first team action.
Real Madrid v Valencia
Carlo Ancelotti will be disappointed to have returned to his old club Juventus and watched his side’s lacklustre performance in Turin that was saved by an away goal by Cristiano Ronaldo which gives them some form of hope of clinching a place in the final and a chance to defend their trophy. Attention for them now turns back to domestic matters as they’ll be desperate to close the gap on Barcelona who are 2 points ahead of them.
Valencia meanwhile are enjoying a fine season and are currently in 4th position and are undefeated in 13 of their last 14 league matches. It is a match they also can’t afford to lose given that Sevilla are breathing down their necks in 5th.
Karim Benzema has been sorely missed by Madrid it looks unlikely he’ll be risked for the clash on Saturday afternoon with the return leg against Juventus around the corner. Luka Modric’s injury has also been an untimely one and Ancelotti has tried to fill his void with Sergio Ramos but he looks unnatural in the heart of midfield. Rodrigo is suspended for Valencia whilst Diego Alves should start in goal despite suffering a minor knock last week.
Celta Vigo v Sevilla
Sevilla will be fighting tooth and nail to try and clinch the last qualification spot for the Champions League but their far inferior goal difference compared to Valencia means they’re theoretically 4 points behind with just 3 games to go.
Celta Vigo isn’t an easy place to visit either but a top half finish is all that the hosts are capable of achieving so the motivation levels for the Sevilla players should be a lot higher which may prove the decisive factor.
Celta Vigo were 2-0 up against Almeria on Monday night but could only gain a point and also picked up a straight red card for Gustavo Cabral. He will now miss the remainder of the season through suspension.
Nicolas Pareja and Beto are missing for Sevilla through injury and Celta Vigo have no fresh injury concerns to add to the long term injuries to Borja Oubina, Carles Planas and Nemanja Radoja.