La Liga preview: Real look to go top

Updated: December 16, 2011

Real Madrid can go top of the Spanish league again without Barcelona kicking a ball if they can pick up a win against Sevilla away from home, in the last weekend of La Liga action before the winter break.

Barcelona are currently top of the league on head-to-head difference with one game more played than Real Madrid and are currently in Japan at the FIFA Club World Cup.

Following last week’s epic El Clasico clash, it will be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho’s side respond to their comprehensive 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Spanish champions Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

Cristiano Ronaldo in particular received a lot of criticism following his poor performance in El Clasico, and the Portuguese forward was guilty of under-performing as well as missing at least one gilt-edged chance.

Sevilla have a decent record at home this season, winning five of their eight games but they come into Saturday’s match off the back of a 1-0 away defeat to Levante so their confidence could be low; however, their good home form may make them worth a punt to pick up a win against Madrid at 8 with

The home team must be wary of a backlash from Real Madrid however, as the Spanish giants will surely be looking to take their frustration after last week’s defeat out on someone.

Valencia can narrow the gap on the top two with a win over an unpredictable Malaga side at the Mestalla on Sunday.

Unai Emery’s side gave a much needed win to Real Betis last week, losing 2-1 in Seville to Pepe Mel’s struggling side and falling behind Madrid and Barca in the title race.

Betis will be hoping that their first win in ten games will be the spur their season needed and their first test of this hope will be a tough one; an away trip to Atletico Madrid.

Atletico go into this game on the back of a heavy 4-2 defeat to Espanyol with the upside that Falcao is still scoring freely; notching his fourth goal in five games as a consolation against Espanyol.

Levante can continue their good form following their narrow victory over Sevilla with a win over Granada at home on Saturday.

Villarreal have the tough task of going to Osasuna in search of a much needed win, with the the Yellow Submarine only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Juan Carlos Garrido’s side could only manage a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad last weekend and they will need to up their performance if they are going to be the first team to beat Osasuna at home this season.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Mallorca host Getafe; Espanyol travel to Sporting Gijon and Athletic Bilbao will entertain bottom-placed Real Zaragoza while Real Sociedad will travel to Racing Santander on Sunday as the home team try to get out of the drop zone.

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