Barcelona eye holding on to La Liga top spot before heading to Japan

Madrid, Dec 11 (IANS) Barcelona will be hosting Deportivo La Coruna in week 15 of La Liga on Saturday, while keeping an eye on maintaining the table’s top spot before heading to Japan to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Following a 1-1 draw on Wednesday against Bayer Leverkusen in the last round of the Champions League’s group stage, the Blaugrana will be aiming not to repeat the scenario of round 14 of La Liga, which ended in a 1-1 tie against Valencia, reports Efe.

Currently Barcelona have 34 points putting them in the lead, while guests Deportivo are in sixth place with 22 points.

Deportivo’s last game at the Camp Nou stadium was played in La Liga’s 38th round during the last season, in which the team snatched an important 2-2 draw to remain in the top tier of the Spanish football league system and avoided relegation.

Back to the current season, it seems that Atletico Madrid have found pleasure in Barcelona’s misfortune, and now the capital side is just two points ahead of La Liga’s lead.

Atletico will be hosting on Sunday Athletic Bilbao, who are in seventh position with 21 points.

This game marks the return of Raul Garcia to Vicente Calderon after he moved to Bilbao from Atletico Madrid this year.

Real Madrid, currently third with 30 points, will be visiting Villarreal in this round’s final match on Sunday.

Los Blancos will be aiming to snatch an important win after gaining a significant boost following the team’s wide 8-0 win against Sweden’s Malmo in the final round of the Champions League’s group stage.

Elsewhere, English manager Garry Neville will be leading his first La Liga game with Valencia on Sunday when they visit Eibar.

Neville debuted with Valencia on Wednesday against French side Lyon, who won the game 2-0 and eliminated the Spanish side from the Champions League.

As for Sevilla, after securing a place in the Europa League following a 1-0 win against Juventus in the Champions League, the team will be hosting Sporting Gijon on Saturday at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville.

In other matches, Celta Vigo face Espanyol, while Granada, who hold the top spot in the relegation zone, will be hosting Levante, who are in 19th position.

Saturday’s clashes will conclude with a game between bottom guest team Las Palmas and Real Betis.

On Sunday, Rayo Vallecano will be playing against Malaga.

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