The top 3 all came through their respective games last time out with 3 points in the bag whilst the teams in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th all dropped points. Sevilla missed the chance to go level on points with Valencia for the final Champions League qualification spot after a disappointing 1-1 draw at Granada. That point for Granada edged them closer to safety with Almeria and Deportivo both losing.
Espanyol v Barcelona
Barcelona are on a very good run of form having won both legs of their Champions League quarter-final clash with PSG, progressing 5-1 on aggregate and there was also a comfortable 2-0 victory at the Nou Camp against Valencia sandwiched in between.
Espanyol are undefeated in their last 6 La Liga matches and they’ve kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 home La Liga fixtures. Espanyol are a side Barcelona usually struggle against but they put their difficulties aside earlier in the season when they hammered them at the Nou Camp, 5-1. That was despite the visitors taking the lead but a Lionel Messi hat trick helped Barcelona turn the game around.
Andres Iniesta picked up a back problem in Paris a fortnight ago and was brought off as a precaution on Tuesday night at half time. That was after he played an influential part in Barcelona’s 1st goal, dribbling the ball from deep inside his own half before teeing up Neymar to score.
Luis Enrique’s only injury to contend with is Thomas Vermaelen but the Belgian defender has been injured since November. Espanyol likewise have no new fresh injury concerns to report and they’ll need their side to perform to their maximum if they wish to dent Barcelona’s title chances.
Real Sociedad v Villarreal
Both these sides are in a terrible rut at the moment. David Moyes has watched his side gain just 2 points from their last 4 games although 3 of those games have been away from home where their problems have been evident on the road.
Villarreal meanwhile have lost 3 and drawn 3 of their last 6 matches. It has seen Sevilla slip away from their sight and they now look certain to finish 6th this campaign. Their latest disappointment was at home to basement side, Cordoba as they laboured to a 0-0 draw.
Luciano Vietto was on fire for the first half of the season but the goals have dried of late having failed to score in his last 6 appearances. His form has seen him relegated to the substitute’s bench but in such a high profile clash he could be recalled upon. Mateo Musacchio, Giovanni Dos Santos and Bruno Soriano are key players that will be missing for the away side.
Sociedad aren’t without their share of key players being ruled out either as Inigo Martinez and Alfred Finnbogason are out but the biggest miss has been Carlos Vela who was injured way back in January against Real Madrid and has only made 3 substitute appearances since. He completed 28 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Elche on Monday night but with Sociedad likely to consolidate on 12th, Moyes won’t be risking his star player too heavily.
Celta Vigo v Real Madrid
Real Madrid celebrated a dramatic winner over rivals Atletico Madrid midweek in the Champions League as a Javier Hernandez goal settled proceedings after nearly 180 minutes of action without a goal. Carlo Ancelotti would’ve been pleased his depleted side managed to beat Atletico at the 8th time of asking despite Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Marcelo all missing. Hernandez seized his opportunity ,which has been limited this season, by scoring the only goal of the game.
Madrid are still 2 points behind Barcelona and face an improved Celta Vigo side. Celta Vigo hasn’t been a happy hunting ground in the past for Madrid and the passionate home fans will try to intimidate their visitors as much as possible.
Marcelo will return to his usual left back position ahead of Fabio Coentrao as the Brazilian was suspended for the Champions League tie midweek. Karim Benzema could return as the French forward has been nursing a slight knock which occurred in training. Gareth Bale is unlikely to make a return with a calf injury and Luka Modric is definitely ruled out.
Celta are unlikely to change from the side that defeated Eibar 1-0 and are in a good position in the league as they boast a better goal average than the 3 teams above them which stands them in good stead should they pick up points from now until the end of the season.