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La Liga preview: Malaga looking to test Barcelona
Jan 10, 2013 6:31 PM GMT
Runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona will travel to Malaga on Sunday hoping to keep their perfect league record intact.
Barca have been ruthless this season, only dropping points to Real Madrid in a 2-2 draw in October, and will be confident of victory against a Malaga side 21 points below them on the league table despite being fourth.
With Lionel Messi taking out the Ballon D'Or this week for a record fourth successive year and a raft of players making it to the FIFA Team of the Year, morale among Tito Villanova's side will be sky high.
However, Malaga will be no pushovers with their 3-2 win over Real Madrid before the winter break and their impressive Champions League run reasons for Barca to be wary.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid will travel to bottom side Osasuna on Sunday in what should be their 12th win of the campaign.
Jose Mourinho's men have won just one of their last three La Liga games and their inconsistency has been a key reason for their disappointing season which sees them sitting in third place, 16 points behind Barcelona and out of the title race.
But Ronaldo and company will be confident they can get the job done against an Osasuna side that has conceded more than a goal a game and tasted victory just three times this season.
Real Betis play Levante in what will be one of the more intriguing matches of the round.
The teams sit fifth and sixth on the table respectively with just one point separating them and a win for either could potentially move them into the Champions League places if Malaga fails to beat Barcelona.
Matchday 19 gets underway on Friday with Athletic Bilbao to host Rayo Vallecano before Saturday's games begin with Real Valladolid facing Mallorca. Lowly Espanyol will hope to escape the relegation zone when the take on Celta de Vigo before Sevilla travel to the Mestalla to face Valencia.
Sunday sees Real Sociedad come up against Deportivo La Coruna and second-placed Atletico Madrid host Real Zaragoza before the round finishes on Monday with a match between Getafe and Granada at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez in Madrid.