MADRID, April 23 (Xinhua) — With just six matches left to be played in the season, the margin for error in the race for the La Liga title is slimmer than ever.
Real Madrid are the first of the title contenders in action when they entertain sixth place Betis on Saturday. Betis dropped two points in their battle to qualify for Europe when they drew 0-0 at home to Athletic Club Bilbao on Wednesday night, and they will be without suspended playmaker Nebil Fekir, who was sent off for a nasty tackle.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said his players are tired and with a Champions League semifinal at home to Chelsea on Tuesday night, he will have to decide whether to rest players. Although Dani Carvajal is likely to start after returning from injury, there are still doubts over Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Eden Hazard.
FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both play on Sunday, with Atletico traveling to play Athletic Club Bilbao. The Basque side suffered a blow to their morale after losing two Copa del Rey finals this month, but is unbeaten in their last five league games, scoring and conceding just twice in that time.
It looks like to be a game of few chances, where the inspiration of Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente could be key for an Atletico without the suspended Jose Gimenez and the injured Luis Suarez.
Barca also have a difficult visit when they travel down the east coast to Villarreal on the back of Thursday’s 5-2 win at home to Getafe.
Ronald Koeman has to decide once again whether to play three central defenders or a flat back four, but is unlikely to make many changes against the side that is currently seventh in the table, just a point behind fifth place Real Sociedad.
The round of matches kicks off on Saturday lunchtime with second from bottom Elche at home to Levante, who have lost four of their last five games, before fourth from bottom Valladolid, who would slip back into the bottom four, if Elche win, entertain mid-table Cadiz.
Alaves’ chances of survival have enjoyed a major boost since Javier Calleja took over as coach with two wins and a draw, although they face a difficult visit to Mestalla, where Valencia have won four and drawn one of their last five matches.
Sunday starts with a key battle against relegation as Huesca take on Getafe. Huesca slipped back into the relegation zone this week after losing to Alaves and Atletico Madrid, but a win at home to Getafe would leave them just a point behind Sunday’s rivals, who have not won since February.
Celta entertain an Osasuna that has climbed to eighth in the table and would be fifth on the results of the second half of the season, while fourth place Sevilla look for their fifth successive win and their seventh triumph in eight games when they face Granada in an Andalusian derby.
The round of matches ends on Monday with bottom of the table Eibar look for their first win in 16 games at home to neighboring Real Sociedad. Enditem