MADRID: The 22nd round of matches in La Liga kicks off on Saturday with Girona at home to Almeria as the visitors look to end a run of results that has left them just two points above the relegation zone.
Sunday's biggest match sees Real Madrid travel to Pamplona to face Osasuna, with Carlo Ancelotti's men eight points behind FC Barcelona in the title race after a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Elche on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Ancelotti will continue with his policy of squad rotation ahead of next week's vital UEFA Champions League visit to Liverpool, while Osasuna have Nacho Vidal, Ruben Pena and Aimar Oroz all out injured.
Earlier in the day, third-placed Real Sociedad are at home to Celta Vigo in a match which sees Real Sociedad midfielder Brais Mendez play against the club he left last summer.
Real Sociedad were impressive as they beat Espanyol 3-2 on Monday, although coach Imanol Alguacil has warned they can't lose concentration in defense as they did in the closing minutes of that game.
Real Betis are at home to Valladolid, who have climbed away from the bottom three after a run of two wins and a draw in their last three matches, as their new signings have given greater depth to their squad.
Villarreal will look to end a run of three consecutive defeats away to Mallorca, but with players such as Gerard Moreno, Nicolas Jackson, Giovani Lo Celso and Francis Coquelin all out, they have a difficult task away to a team that have won their last four home matches 1-0.
Sunday kicks off with a key relegation battle as Elche entertain Espanyol. Elche rolled over for Real Madrid on Wednesday night, probably because they were focused on this game against a rival three places above them.
Espanyol's brief recovery has stuttered to a halt without top scorer Joselu, who is a doubt for a game where defeat could cost Diego Martinez his job as a coach.
Rayo Vallecano entertain Sevilla in an interesting game between two in-form sides, although Sevilla's UEFA Europa League tie with PSV Eindhoven on Thursday could leave them with tired legs.
Barcelona are also in European action on Thursday at home to Manchester United, before they take on Cadiz, who have become tough to beat in recent weeks.
Stories over Barca making payments to the former vice president of the Spanish referees' Technical Committee have once again placed the club in the spotlight of controversy, and coach Xavi Hernandez will work to ensure his players are not distracted by the scandalous revelations.
Athletic Bilbao celebrate the club's 125th anniversary away to Atletico Madrid, who will allow the Basque team to play in their home colors to mark the day. Atletico are without the suspended Stefan Savic, while Ander Herrera is injured for the visitors, who have won their last two games.
The round of matches ends on Monday with another massive game in the relegation zone, as second-from-bottom Getafe take on third-bottom Valencia, who named Ruben Baraja as their new coach this week after a run of four consecutive defeats.
Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!
Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!
Click here for iOS
Click here for Android