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LaLiga: Barcelona Look to Clinch Title Amid Derby Clashes and Relegation Battles

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Barcelona’s 2-0 victory on Tuesday away at D. Alaves means Ernesto Valverde’s side can confirm a 26th LaLiga crown should they defeat Levante on home turf on Saturday evening. If they do, blaugrana talisman and top scorer Lionel Messi is primed to lift the trophy in his first season as club captain.

Camp Nou visitors Levante will, however, be boosted by a 4-0 midweek win over Real Betis which lifted them three points clear of the relegation zone, while the Valencia-based side beat Barça in the Copa del Rey earlier this year, and 5-4 in LaLiga Santander late last season.

Atletico de Madrid kept up the chase with Wednesday’s exciting 3-2 victory at home to Valencia, and Diego Simeone’s men must do so again when R. Valladolidcome to the Wanda Metropolitano Saturday lunchtime, with the side from central Spain travelling to the capital on a high after climbing out of the bottom three with Tuesday’s crucial 1-0 victory at home to Girona.

The weekend’s LaLiga action kicks off Saturday lunchtime with a Basque derby at San Mames as Athletic Club host neighbours D. Alaves. Athletic are unbeaten in Bilbao for 12 matches now as they chase Europa League qualification, while Alaves’ form has dipped after such a superb first half of the campaign.

Improved form including Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Espanyol has seen RC Celta climb towards safety from relegation lately, but the Galicians cannot yet afford to relax when they visit a usually very strong at home Leganes side on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday lunchtime sees Valencia aiming to bounce back from Wednesday’s defeat at Atletico and continue their bid for the fourth spot and final Champions League qualification place. The visitors to Mestalla are an Eibar side still not mathematically certain of avoiding relegation, after taking just one point from their last four LaLiga games.

Six straight LaLiga defeats have dropped Girona down into the relegation places, meaning the Montilivi crowd will have to really get behind their team for Sunday’s clash with top four chasing Sevilla.

Getafe also retain strong hopes of a first-ever Champions League campaign next year, fuelling their need for the three points when they visit mid-table Real Sociedadon Sunday afternoon.

The manner of Huesca’s 2-0 victory over Eibar on Tuesday, with superb goals from Enric Gallego and Chimy Avila, strengthened belief the Aragonese side still had time to escape the drop. But they must repeat that performance when visiting Villarreal on Sunday, with the Yellow Submarine still not clear of relegations fears themselves.

Sunday’s programme finishes with bottom team Rayo Vallecano hosting neighbours Real Madrid in what is now a ‘must-win’ for Paco Jemez’s side, whose last victory in this fixture came back in 1996/97 but who nonetheless impressed in a narrow 1-0 loss at the Bernabeu last December.

The weekend’s action ends on Monday evening at the Benito Villamarin with Real Betis welcoming Espanyol in a clash of two teams who have enjoyed rollercoaster seasons but now sit snugly in mid-table.

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