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Real Madrid And Barcelona Look To Avoid Slip-Ups In Wednesday's La Liga Fixtures





Real Madrid And Barcelona Look To Avoid Slip-Ups In Wednesday's La Liga Fixtures Ronaldo and Bale bagged in Real Madrid's weekend comeback

Barcelona and Real Madrid are both strong home favourites to build on crucial weekend victories in La Liga on Wednesday.

The duo passed stern tests of their title credentials in dramatic fashion on Sunday, with Lionel Messi saving Barcelona late on at Atletico Madrid before leaders Real benefited from a controversial penalty decision to come from 2-0 down to beat Villarreal.

Sevilla kept pace with their own comeback triumph, beating Real Betis 2-1 in the Andalusian derby, meaning just three points divides the top trio, while Atletico are now 10 points behind their neighbours.

With both Barca and Real live on Sky Sports and another three available on the red button, here's a look at Wednesday's clashes...

Barcelona v Sporting Gijon (Wednesday 6.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2HD)

Lionel Messi fired Barcelona to victory at Atletico

Messi came to the rescue yet again at the weekend, keeping his side's title hopes alive and wolves from Luis Enrique's door with an 86th-minute winner at Atletico.

That made it two successive Sundays in which he has bagged Barca a 2-1 win late on, albeit against contrasting opponents, with lowly Leganes previously pushing them close.

Their latest win will have done much more to relieve the residue of their 4-0 thumping at PSG and they've now got two home games to prepare for to overhaul that deficit.

Neymar's form will be of the greatest concern, with the Brazilian scoring just six league goals this season, none of which have come at the Nou Camp. That's the same tally as West Brom's 37-year-old centre-back Gareth McAuley.

Luis Suarez has also failed to score in his last three goals in all competitions, placing even greater onus on Messi.

They did manage to win the reverse fixture 5-0 without their talisman, while Sporting were hit for six in their previous trip to the Nou Camp.

Rubi's men have reasons to believe they can produce a more competitive display this time round, having collected a rare win over Leganes before pushing Atletico close and holding Celta Vigo to a draw.

However, with fellow strugglers Deportivo awaiting at the weekend, their efforts may well be compromised once Messi and co find a way to breach their backline.

Real Madrid v Las Palmas (Wednesday 8.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2HD)

Gareth Bale kicked started Real Madrid's comeback at Villarreal

Zinedine Zidane's men retrieved victory from an even more treacherous situation than their great rivals at the weekend, coming from two goals down to beat Villarreal.

While the penalty awarded for their second was fortunate at the very least, it was the response of champions, breaking down the league's best defence three times in 19 minutes to maintain their advantage at the top of the table.

However, scrutiny over Zidane's selections intensified at the weekend with Isco and Alvaro Morata seen laughing on the bench together as their team trailed before pushing their claims for regular starting berths again.

Isco, who has been benched for the last two games despite assisting both goals in his last start against Espanyol, came on at 2-0 to spark the comeback, while Morata scored the all-important winner.

That heaped further pressure on the misfiring Karim Benzema, who has netted just five times in 18 appearances this season, leaving him with a worse goal-per-minute ratio than six team-mates, including Sergio Ramos, Isco and Morata.

In fact, at one goal every 93 minutes, Morata now has the best goals-per-minute ratio, even better than Cristiano Ronaldo, who has found the net 16 times in 19 starts.

Wednesday's task looks far more straight-forward with Las Palmas losing their last four and recording a solitary win away from Gran Canaria this season.

They've scored just one goal during their dismal run so a third successive home clean sheet looks a likelihood for the leaders, with the Bernabeu natives hoping for less tension than their side have provided over a testing week.

Osasuna v Villarreal (Wednesday 6.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2HD red button)

Villarreal will be looking to vent their frustrations from Sunday's loss to Real when they visit the league's bottom side.

Osasuna are winless in 16 La Liga matches and conceded three or more in their last four, while their visitors have conceded just six times on the road all season, keeping clean sheets in their last three trips.

They have, however, only scored nine times away from El Madrigal this season, a tally they'll be expecting to boost against the league's worst backline.

Celta Vigo v Espanyol (Wednesday 8.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2HD red button)

Celta fans will expect their side Vigo to extend their impressive home form, having seen them win eight of their last nine at Balaidos, with the opportunity to leapfrog their visitors and climb to ninth presenting itself on Wednesday night.

They also won the reverse fixture 2-0, albeit with two 90th-minute strikes, and have taken maximum points from the last two editions of this fixture, while the Catalan travellers bounced back from successive losses by beating Osasuna 3-0 last time out.

Granada v Alaves (Wednesday 8.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2HD red button)

Second-from-bottom Granada will be looking to boost their survival hopes with a third successive home win but come up against another resurgent force in Alaves,

The Copa del Rey finalists have only lost one of their last 10 games in all competitions, a 6-0 thumping at home to Barca, and can climb into the top half of the table with a fourth successive victory.


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Real Madrid And Barcelona Look To Avoid Slip-Ups In Wednesday's La Liga Fixtures
Richard Okoye

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