La Liga: Barca hoping to extend lead at the top

After thrashing Real Madrid 4-0 last week and destroying AS Roma 6-1 in at home in the Champions League, FC Barcelona intend to take control of the title race when they welcome Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Neymar and Luis Suarez have scored 23 goals between them in La Liga this season.   -  REUTERS

After thrashing Real Madrid 4-0 last week and destroying AS Roma 6-1 in at home in the Champions League, FC Barcelona intend to take control of the title race when they welcome Real Sociedad on Saturday.

They will continue to lead the standings if they secure three points at the Camp Nou stadium and widen the gap ahead with second-placed Atletico Madrid.

It seems that Barcelona coach Luis Enrique intends to give no quarter against Real Sociedad, who are struggling to escape from the shadow of the relegation zone, in light of the absence of their midfielder Asier Illarramendi due to suspension.

As for Atletico Madrid, Argentine manager Diego Simeone looks forward to winning their upcoming game against Espanyol at their Vicente Calderon stadium, despite missing defender Gabriel Fernandez Arenas.

Real Madrid hope to escape from their humiliating defeat against Barcelona during the previous round, as well as the painstaking 4-3 win against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, when they meet Eibar on Sunday.

This upcoming away clash will not be an easy job for their coach Rafael Benitez, who will have to figure out how to fill the defensive gap with Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Varane absent.

Elsewhere, Villarreal will be aiming to win when they visit Getafe on Sunday.

Celta Vigo will hope to have an easy task against Sporting Gijon following last week's 0-2 shocker against Deportivo La Coruna, who will be playing against La Palmas.

Valencia will be visiting Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in what promises to be an intense match.

The La Liga weekend will also witness a match between Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Bilbao, with both teams seeking wins to secure their positions in the middle of the table.

Levante and Real Betis will play against each other on Friday night, while Malaga and Granada will be taking part in a match in which they will strive to escape the relegation zone while the season approaches the end of its first half.

Weekend fixtures

FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid vs Espanyol, Malaga vs Granada, Las Palmas vs Deportivo La Coruna, Celta Vigo vs Sporting Gijon, Getafe vs Villareal, Eibar vs Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano vs Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla vs Valencia.

  Dugout videos