Preview: BBC fired up to maintain Real Madrid’s lead in La Liga
The BBC was on fire in midweek. Gareth Bale scored a goal and gave two assists in Wales’ 3-1 win over Iceland. Karim Benzema was on target in France’s morale-boosting 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. Elsewhere, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo netted a brace in a 5-1 rout of Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon. CR7 broke free of retired footballer Pauleta to become his nation’s all-time topscorer with 49 goals.
It’s all looking good for Real Madrid’s stellar forward line. In La Liga, Bale (10) tops Los Blancos’ assists chart whereas Benzema (15) and Ronaldo (23) have more goals between them than Barcelona’s top two highest goalscorers in the league, Sanchez (16) and Messi (15).
Preview: Barcelona can reclaim top spot with a victory
Barcelona will return to action on Saturday, when they travel to Estadio Nuevo Jose Zorrilla to take on Real Valladolid. With the hosts currently in the relegation zone, any points are always welcome, but they will not have it easy against the Catalans.
Having had 13 members of his first team squad away on international duty mid-week, Gerardo Martino is not willing to use that as an excuse.
From the travel time, fatigue and lack of time to prepare for Saturday’s match, all of that can play into a player’s performance. But one important aspect that should lift the spirits of the visitors should be the fact that they could possibly reclaim the top spot in La Liga if Real Madrid fails to win on Sunday.
Preview: Barcelona has a chance to makeup points
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will square off earlier in the day, which gives Barcelona a chance to gain some points on one, or both of their rivals. The thought of Almeria coming into the Nou Camp and grabbing points from the Catalans is hard to believe, but as we saw in Barcelona's last match, anything can happen.
Last weekends 3-1 defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad caught many by surprise. But with Barcelona still set to take on Real Madrid later this month, Tata Martino believes that his side has the title race in their own hands.
Preview: Nobody is invincible
Everyone at Real Madrid is fired up for Sunday’s exciting match up between Atleti and Los Blancos at the Vicente Calderon. This includes quiet manager Carlo Ancelotti who told the press:
“The Copa final was a final; the game in La Liga went well for us, and not so well for them. They arrived better at the semifinals and we must congratulate them. This Liga game will be different; both teams have a lot on the line.
“There are many games left, but it is true they could go six points ahead. We have always said it: we are going to go from game to game. We will go into the game as if it was a final, as we always do. They are very good in defence and in attack they have great individuals. But nobody is invincible.”
Preview: Barcelona have not won at the Estadio Anoeta since 2007
Tata Martino's squad responded well to critics and doubters on Tuesday, when they defeat Manchester City at the Etihad. They will now have to turn their attention to La Liga, where they will be trying to break a streak of winless matches.
Saturday's meeting between these two clubs will be the fourth time they have gone head-to-head this season. This La Liga match will also be the Catalan's second visit to Basque Country in 10 days.
Their last meeting on February 12th ended in a one goal draw, but the Blaugrana already had a 2-0 aggregate lead. Messi gave the visitors the lead in the first half, but a goal from Griezmann in the 87th minute gave Sociedad something to smile about.
Preview: Day 2 without red-carded Ronaldo
Real Madrid’s 4-2 win over Villarreal last weekend assured Madridistas. The squad will now play their second consecutive league game without Ronaldo who is suspended. Once again, the spotlight has fallen on Jese Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.
The former has already been tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner. He has earned the trust of Carlo Ancelotti, making 14 league appearances already with four goals and four assists.
“[Ancelotti] has helped me position myself better from a tactical perspective. He is a winner who always wants the team to improve, and that is very important,” Jese told Champions Magazine.
Preview: Neymar returns after his injury against Getafe
All the attention around Barcelona has been focused on their upcoming Champions League match. While a meeting with Manchester City promises to be an entertaining affair, the Catalans will first need to get by a Rayo Vallecano side that are in the relegation zone.
Tata Martino’s side jumped back into the top spot of the league standings, taking advantage of a slip-up from Atletico Madrid.
Saturday’s match will mark the return of Brazilian star Neymar, who has been out with an ankle injury since January 16th. But despite his return, he is likely to only see some minutes in the second half.
Preview: Barcelona are 90 minutes away from meeting Real Madrid in the final
A 2-0 victory over Sociedad in the first match was far better than Barcelona's performance. The Catalans were not at their best, and it was very clear in the second half.
Martinez was sent off in the 44th minute, and Barcelona played the entire second half with a man advantage. In normal circumstances, the Blaugrana would have put the game beyond any doubt, but a strange own goal was all they had to show for that second half.
Sociedad will now welcome the La Liga leaders to Anoeta, where they have been impressive as of late.
Preview: Chance to go top again should be extra incentive for Barcelona
Barcelona will head into Sunday’s match away to Sevilla knowing that a victory could put them back in the lead. Although Real Madrid defeated Villareal on Saturday at the Bernabeu, front-runners Atletico Madrid were unable to grab points away to Almeria.
Tata Martino’s men will now try to grab three points from a Sevilla side that has only won five matches at home, from a total of 10.
Sunday’s match will be the first time in over a year that Barcelona take the pitch in league play, out of first place. With that said, Martino will have to make some adjustments to his squad.
Preview: The first of three games without Ronaldo
Carlo Ancelotti has enough talent at his disposal and may not struggle in the absence of red-carded Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese’s role is expected to be taken by flamboyant starlet Jese and returning winger Gareth Bale.
Meanwhile, Di Maria and Modric are set to keep their spots in the starting XI after impressing the Santiago Bernabeu crowd during Real Madrid’s remarkable 3-0 win against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey in midweek.
Preview: Barcelona should be motivated to bounce back
Real Sociedad will head into the Camp Nou facing a difficult challenge. The Txuri-Urdin are coming off a four goal thumping at the Vicente Calderon against Atletico Madrid, with put the Madrid side at the top of the La Liga table.
The hosts will be equally frustrated on Wednesday, after their disappointing performance at the weekend.
Playing at home is normally a very good chance for the Blaugrana to win, but Valencia had other ideas. Los Che scored three goals, more than any other team has scored at the Camp Nou this season, and defeated Tata Martino's squad.
Ahead of the decision by the Spanish FA, FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique gave his take on the situation, saying:
"Even on TV it looked dubious. I know Cristiano; he raised his hand, but it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't violent conduct."
Real Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza added more, during an interview with Canal Plus. He declared:
"It seemed simply unfair to me, if anyone deserved a red card, it was the one who started it off. Cristiano should have stayed on the pitch.
"It seems to me that Gurpegi is the first to put his hands on Cristiano's chest, and then tries to trick the referee as he exaggerates. We must have another look at the incident, calmly, and our legal department will decide whether to appeal or not."
Preview: Barcelona with a chance to put pressure on their rivals
Saturday's afternoon meeting between Barcelona and Valencia will give the Catalans a chance to pull three points ahead of Atletico Madrid. The bad piece of news for Los Che is that they have lost their last six visits to Camp Nou.
With only two goals in six matches when visiting the Catalans, Juan Antonio Pizzi's men are going to have to put together a very good performance.
Barcelona come into the match on great form, having won three straight, after their one goal draw away to Levante. Tata Martino's men followed that draw up with a 4-1 victory over that same Levante in the Copa del Rey, and finished them off mid-week at Camp Nou with a 5-1 drubbing.
"To win the Champions League, you need a budget of at least €300 million", Bayern Munich legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn stated to German publication Kicker when asked his opinion on what it takes for a side to lift European continental football's highest trophy.
He then went on to add that it was thanks to their lavish spending that saw Chelsea lift the trophy in 2012, the first in the club's history but conceded that "it doesn't make them any different than Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich".
Still, no one can dispute that since Chelsea's July 2003 takeover by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich that the Blues have not enjoyed an upswing in success, notably winning the league title three times (their first since the the 1954-1955 campaign).
Preview: With a three goal lead, Barcelona have good chances to progress
The first match at the Ciutat de Valencia was kind to the Blaugrana, as they came away with a 1-4 victory. Levante now has to travel to the Camp Nou, where they will have to overcome that first leg defeat. Joaquin Caparros' squad have a difficult task ahead of them, especially playing away form home.
After their president stepped down, many expected Barcelona to struggle, but that has not been the case. The Catalans have won twice in a row, and a victory on Wednesday night could make it three wins in a matter of seven days.
Preview: Barcelona begin life without Sandro Rosell
A week that has brought a lot of media attention to the Camp Nou, now has Barcelona second in La Liga. After failing to grab three points in their last match, the Catalans now trail Real Madrid by two points, but could reclaim the top spot with a victory on Sunday.
The hosts will also start a new chapter, after Sandro Rosell stepped down from the club's presidency.
Controversy involving Neymar's transfer to the La Liga said turned into a lawsuit against Rosell, which eventually forced him to leave the club. Having won a number of titles during his tenure with the Blaugrana, the Spanish giants will now hope they can continue their success. Winning on Sunday would be a start.
Preview: A chance for Ancelotti’s men to reach La Liga's summit
Granada have not scored away from home in 2014 and Saturday’s clash will only be their second as visitors. After going down 3-0 at Almeria, they seem to have little hopes of record a decent result at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Granada are a mid-table team with 24 points. While they are eight points safe from the relegation zone, they could fancy their chances of playing in Europe come next season. At the very least, Lucas Alcaraz will want his players to showcase character against Real Madrid.
Preview: Barcelona will be out to avenge their 1-1 draw from the weekend
The Blaugrana were not all that impressive in their latest match against Levante, but they will be looking to change that. Fortunately for Tata Martino's squad, Atletico Madrid was able to drop points at home, which allows Barcelona to remain top of La Liga.
On Wednesday, both sides will go head to head once again, in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final.
Being able to take on an opponent that you just drew will give both sides a chance to prove their true value. For Barcelona, they will want to show their doubters that mishaps will occur, while Levante will be out to prove that the draw at the weekend was not coincidental.
Preview: Even without Neymar, the Catalans are very dangerous
When Neymar had to be subbed off mid-week, Barcelona fans feared the worst. Seeing how his ankle got caught in the grass, and turned awkwardly, it was difficult not to think of a long absence. Fortunately for the Brazilian, the injury appears to be tendon related, but he will only miss three to four weeks.
Barcelona will take the pitch without him on Sunday, but they have Messi back. The Argentine missed a significant amount of time with injuries, but since his return, he has not stopped scoring. Taking on a Levante side that does not concede much at home will be a good test for the Blaugrana.
Preview: A chance to join Barca and Atletico on 50 points
Can Los Blancos temporarily close the three-point gap that currently places them third behind joint-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga? Real Betis are fighting a tough relegation battle. The visitors will want to take advantage of the Sevilla-based club’s worries.
Real Madrid have 47 points with seven wins in 10 away games. So far, they have conceded 13 goals away from home already. In 2014, however, the Spanish giants have been remarkably good defensively with five consecutive clean sheets (one in a friendly against PSG, two in La Liga and two in the Copa del Rey). Meanwhile, Real Betis are firmly rooted at the bottom of the league table with 11 points.