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La Liga preview: Messi absence unlikely to halt Barca
Apr 04, 2013 8:00 PM EST
Barcelona will be without the services of record-breaking attacker Lionel Messi for Saturday's match against lowly Mallorca.
Messi suffered a thigh injury during Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.
The four-time world player of the year will now miss the visit of Mallorca and is also in doubt for next week's return leg against the Parisians.
But despite the Argentine's absence, Tito Vilanova's men are heavily favoured to get the job done against a side second from bottom and facing relegation.
Not only have Barcelona won 10 successive league games at Camp Nou, Mallorca have tasted victory only twice in their past 16 fixtures away from home, conceding 36 goals in the process at an average of 2.25 per game.
Barca's arch rivals and defending champions Real Madrid, who are 13 points off the pace in second, are also at home this weekend and welcome 10th place Levante to the Bernabeu.
Real ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Galatasaray in Champions League action midweek, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain all on the scoresheet.
They enjoy home comforts again on Saturday against Levante, who are unbeaten in their last four league games.
However, Jose Mourinho's troops could drop to third if the fail to win and city rivals Atletico Madrid overcome Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Sunday.
In possibly the match of the round, Real Sociedad and Malaga square off with fourth position up for grabs on Saturday.
Sociedad sit a solitary point clear of Malaga but could create breathing space with victory in front of their home fans.
And if history is anything to go by, Sociedad should get the job done, considering Malaga have lost four and drawn two of their eight league fixtures after European matches.
Elsewhere, Granada host high-flying Real Betis on Friday, Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao do battle, while Real Valladolid make the trip to Valencia.
Relegation-threatened Celta Vigo entertain Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna can continue their march away from the drop zone against Espanyol, while last-placed Deportivo La Coruna take on Real Zaragoza.