Rested Barca seek to keep record run rolling
11 March 2016, 08:07
Madrid -A well-rested Barcelona look to take another step closer to the Spanish title when struggling Getafe visit the Camp Nou on Saturday looking like cannon fodder for the rampant European champions.
Barca haven't lost in a Spanish record 36 games to open up an eight-point lead over Atletico Madrid in the title race with just 10 games remaining.
Moreover, Luis Enrique's men have combined that run with a gruelling schedule and will start on Saturday having enjoyed their first free midweek since December.
Barca will therefore be close to full strength with Neymar returning after he made the most of his suspension for last weekend's 4-0 win at Eibar to return home to Brazil to celebrate his sister's birthday.
Javier Mascherano is banned so Jeremy Mathieu or Thomas Vermaelen should be handed a rare start in central defence, while Luis Enrique could make a few more changes with the second leg of his side's Champions League last-16 tie with Arsenal in mind despite holding a 2-0 lead from the first leg.
"We are aware that we could do another treble," Barca midfielder Sergi Roberto told the club's website.
"We are in the final of the Cup, there are 10 games to go in the league and, although the Champions League is very difficult, we will try to win it again.
"We hope the season finishes in the best way possible."
Getafe have taken just one point from their last eight games to slip to within a point of the relegation zone.
However, on-loan Celtic striker Stefan Scepovic insists they won't just head to the Catalan capital to make up the numbers.
"We are not going there just to be on the pitch. We know the type of game we have to play to fight at the Camp Nou," he said.
Atletico will attempt to keep themselves in the hunt when Deportivo la Coruna visit the Vicente Calderon later on Saturday.
Security will be tight in the Spanish capital as violent clashes between both sets of supporters led to the death of a Deportivo fan before this fixture last season.
On the field, Atletico are arguably in their best form of the season as they have followed up beating Real Madrid by scoring three goals in consecutive Liga games in wins over Real Sociedad and Valencia for the first time in over a year.
Diego Godin should return to the heart of the Atletico defence, while Yannick Carrasco may be handed a start after coming off the bench to net against Gary Neville's Valencia last weekend.
However, Fernando Torres looks set to miss out with a knee injury picked up in that game.
Real Madrid eased into the Champions quarter-finals with a 4-0 aggregate win over Roma in midweek.
However, despite being 12 points adrift of Barcelona, coach Zinedine Zidane insisted they remain focused on at least usurping Atletico for second place in La Liga, starting with a trip to Las Palmas on Sunday.
"We have a professional group and we have to think about the game on Sunday," said the Frenchman.
"We are in a difficult position, but the players know that first we have to try to get second. The objective now is Las Palmas."
Sevilla have the chance to cut the gap on Villarreal to five points in the fight for fourth place should they register a 16th straight home win in all competitions when the teams meet at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday.
And despite being rooted in mid-table, local pride is still on the line for Valencia when they visit Levante in the Valencian derby with the hosts looking to claw themselves off the foot of the table.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Malaga v Sporting Gijon (1930)
Barcelona v Getafe (1500), Celta Vigo v Real Sociedad (1715), Atletico Madrid v Deportivo la Coruna (1930), Rayo Vallecano v Eibar (2105)
Levante v Valencia (1100), Sevilla v Villarreal (1500), Athletic Bilbao v Real Betis (1715), Las Palmas v Real Madrid (2030)
Granada v Espanyol (1930)
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