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Friday, 19 July 2019

Preview: El Clasico the highlight of a La Liga weekend with final European spots also up for grabs

Ahram Online , Friday 4 May 2018
Barcelona
File Photo: Real Madrid Vs Barcelona (Photo: AP)
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Sunday evening’s El Clasico at the Camp Nou is the highlight of an exciting LaLiga weekend which also features crunch clashes in the six-team battle for the final Europa League qualifying place.

Newly-crowned LaLiga champions Barcelona play for the first time since clinching a 25th title last weekend, hosting a Real Madrid side buoyed by reaching this year's Champions League final and aiming to halt their rivals' bid to become the first team in LaLiga history to complete a 38 game season unbeaten.

Barça talisman Lionel Messi will be looking to add to his 32 goals so far as he closes in on the fourth LaLiga top scorer award of his career. Meanwhile, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s last five LaLiga El Clasico goals have all come at the Camp Nou and he’ll be keen to keep that streak going.

Sunday also sees second placed Atletico Madrid host Espanyol at the Wanda Metropolitano with Diego Simeone’s men now just 180 minutes away from going the entire LaLiga season unbeaten at their new home.

Fourth placed Valencia can clinch Champions League football next season if they pick up three points on Saturday at neighbours Villarreal, who need a win themselves to ensure qualification for the 2018/19 Europa League.

Real Betis head to Athletic Club on Saturday afternoon knowing they have already secured a return to the Europa League next season but below that six teams are separated by just five points in the hunt for the final qualification spot.

With an extra game still to play Sevilla look favourites and their new coach Joaquin Caparros will be hoping for a debut victory at home to Real Sociedad on Friday evening. La Real have form on their side, however, with four wins in five games under recently installed boss Imanol Alguacil.

Both Girona and Eibar know that they realistically need to win to stand any chance of qualification when they meet at Montilivi on Saturday lunchtime. Neither the Catalans nor the Basques have ever played in UEFA competition before so will want to take this real chance of making it into Europe.

And nothing less than the three points will do when Celta Vigo host neighbours Deportivo La Coruña in the Galician derby on Saturday afternoon, with Depor looking for some local pride following relegation last weekend.

Sunday afternoon then sees currently seventh placed Getafe visit already relegated Las Palmas, although the team from the outskirts of Madrid’s chances of a strong finish have been hit by a serious injury crisis coming at just the wrong time.

There is less on the line when bottom club Malaga host already safe Alaves on Sunday morning, but the Andalusians will nonetheless want to give their fans something to cheer about in their penultimate 2017/18 game at La Rosaleda.

* This content is provided by La Liga

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