La Liga preview: Real set to peg back Barca
By Football News
Real Madrid will host relegation-threatened Mallorca, while Barcelona take on eighth-placed Rayo Vallecano in La Liga at the weekend.
Trailing the runaway league leaders Barca by 13 points, Real can pull the gap back to 10 - even if it's only for a day - when they welcome Mallorca to the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Gregorio Manzano's men are riding a wave of form, however, after recording back-to-back league wins for the first time since their four-match winning streak towards the end of last season.
Co-incidentally, it was Real that snapped that run with a 4-1 result in Madrid, and Mallorca should really be preparing for an encore of that clash.
Jose Mourinho's side have won seven of their past eight in all competitions, with the only non-win a first-leg draw against Manchester United.
They turned that result into an aggregate win to enter the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and have also won two El Clasicos over Barcelona to boost confidence stocks at the Bernabeu that were previously withering.
While reeling in Barcelona domestically still seems out of the question, Mourinho would certainly like to restore some pride at the club over the final 11 league matches.
Barca have a tricky date with Vallecano on Sunday, with the visitors to Camp Nou failing to concede in their past two league fixtures.
Of course, that statistic pales into insignificance in the knowledge that Barcelona employ a man by the name of Lionel Messi.
The Argentine superstar was at his unstoppable best in the Champions League in mid-week, and is still on a 17-match scoring streak in La Liga - in eight of those matches, he has scored two or more goals.
In other matches, Friday night's clash is a battle between the bottom two sides - Deportivo La Coruna and Celta de Vigo.
Hosts Deportivo are nine points from safety and all but relegated, while Celta have a little more hope of survival, only three points into the drop zone.
On Saturday, Getafe host Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad welcome Real Valladolid and Valencia are at home to Real Betis.
Early kick-off on Sunday sees Malaga entertain Espanyol, before Sevilla and Real Zaragoza do battle, Atletico Madrid are on the road to Osasuna, and Granada host Levante.