Analysis: Real Madrid and Malaga do not have much to play for
Eleven points separate league leaders Barcelona from current Spanish La Liga champions Real Madrid. Meanwhile, there are 12 more points at stake ahead of Matchday 35. A draw between Real and Malaga would not declare Barca champions yet. This is because head-to-head counts above goal difference in Spain. Having drawn 2-2 at the Camp Nou and triumphed 2-1 at the Bernabeu in El Clasico this season, Real Madrid have the advantage when it comes to head-to-head.
Not many people would have expected Barcelona to have gone out of the Champions League the way they did, but after watching those two very one sided matches, Tito Vilanova's side clearly has some weak spots.
Starting from the back, they have been struggling defensively for some time now, but with such a comfortable lead in La Liga, Puyol and Mascherano certainly will not be rushed back. Eric Abidal will likely get the start along side Pique, while Pinto should start in goal for Valdes who is out with a foot injury.
Keeping teams off the score-sheet has not been easy for the Blaugrana, and it could be very much of the same scenario on Sunday.
Analysis: Real Madrid looking to push Barcelona all the way to the wall
Real Madrid can pride themselves in the way they crashed out from the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League semi-finals in midweek. They bottled their chances in the first leg by allowing Borussia Dortmund to press them hard throughout 90 minutes as Robert Lewandowski scored an incredible amount of four goals. From there, it was always going to be difficult for Los Blancos to stage a comeback.
However, as dramatic as it may sound, they came only a goal away from reaching Wembley this Tuesday. Two late strikes from Benzema and Ramos almost put Real Madrid in dreamland. The miraculous third goal never occurred and the Santiago Bernabeu became the ground of priceless scenes of celebration for visitors Dortmund.
Pep Guardiola may not have taken the hot seat at the Allianz Arena just yet, but judging by Bayern's performance against Barcelona last week, the Spanish manager could be on his way to more success with his new club.
Munich's showing in the first match of this two leg affair was not only impressive, but it was beyond outstanding. How could it be that a team like Barcelona had been dominated and pushed around the pitch for 90 minutes?
The German side did their homework and knew that if they were going to have a chance of making it to another Champions League Final, they would need to be physical and force Barcelona to make mistakes.
Miami Beach, Florida (April 26, 2013) – beIN Sports end-of-month coverage starts this Friday with a Championship fixture between Leicester City and Watford which will air on both channels from 14:45 EST / 18:45 EST / 20:45 CET. The weekend will then be filled with a total of seven Spanish La Liga matches. Inevitably, the games that are set to attract wide viewership are Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona and Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid. LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) provides you with full live TV listings for beIN Sport en Español and beIN Sport USA.
Barcelona and Real Madrid find themselves in a very embarrassing and awkward position after heavy Champions League defeats, to Bayern and Dortmund respectively. The Catalans and the Blancos have one more away trip on their agenda before returning home for next week’s uphill task in Europe.
Team news and analysis
Three players are unavailable for this short trip: Marcelo, Essien and Arbeloa (unless he makes a last-minute recovery) will not take part in the Madrid derby. The hosts, meanwhile, have no injury concern apart from Arda Turan who remains doubtful.
Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho cannot afford to risk the health of his key players – most of whom underperformed against Borussia Dortmund and must sacrifice themselves next Tuesday to stand a chance of overturning the UEFA Champions League semi-final tie.
If someone had told you that Bayern Munich was going to not only out perform Barcelona, but that they were also going to win 4-0, your initial reaction would have been of disbelief. Unfortunately for Barcelona, just four days later, the hangover of that heavy 4-0 defeat still hangs over their heads.
Not only was it a convincing victory for Bayern, but it may have shifted some prestige from the Spanish La Liga to the German Bundesliga. Could the Germans be on the verge of becoming a more powerful and entertaining league?
Regardless of anyone's opinion, Barcelona's Andres Iniesta believes that his side still deserves respect given what they have been able to achieve in recent years.
The La Liga title may not be clinched mathematically just yet, but that will not stop Barcelona from having one eye on their mid-week clash with Bayern Munich. A 13 point lead in the domestic league has Tito Vilanova's side beyond cruise control, allowing them to potentially rest some players for their upcoming Champions League match.
Barcelona's first meeting with Levante this season ended very well for the Blaugrana. Despite not being able to score in the first half, Messi, Iniesta and Fabregas found the back of the net in the second 45 to give the Catalans a 0-4 victory away from the Nou Camp.
For Real Madrid, the purpose of playing to win in the Spanish La Liga is all about gaining motivation. The 2013 Copa del Rey finalists have a date with Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League scheduled for next week. While Jose Mourinho may consider resting his best players for the match against Real Betis this Saturday, he could also favour the option of keeping them match fit with some playing time.
Last week, the Portuguese coach surprisingly featured playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo for the entire game against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. Mourinho also decided to play Diego Lopez ahead of Iker Casillas. It is clear that Real Madrid’s plan at this moment is to avoid any possible upset by filling strong line-ups each Matchday.
Barcelona's mid-week performance against a confident and promising PSG side may not have been their best, but at the end of the day, the Blaugrana booked their ticket into the next round. Knowing Bayern Munich is the next team in their way of a European Championship, Tito Vilanova's squad will have to focus on a Zaragoza side who will have no pressure on them Sunday.
The hosts have not managed to win a match in 2013, with their chances on Sunday not looking very promising. Their last victory came in December, when they defeated Bilbao away from home. A match against the current leaders of the La Liga may not be an ideal match to climb out of the relegation zone, but if anything, it should bring the best out of some of their players.
Team news and analysis
This season, Athletic Bilbao are nowhere near equalling the achievements they had in 2012. By this time, last year, the team had life in Europe. The 2011/12 UEFA Europa League runners-up are suffering from inconsistency in La Liga this season. Bilbao have very little to play for as they rank 14th in the table. Staying clear from the relegation zone is definitely not sufficient for the occupants of San Mames who have forgotten about a top six finish long ago.
Athletic Bilbao have collected red cards in each of their last two games. In their latest fixture, against Sevilla, Aymeric Laporte received an accumulation of two yellow cards. The defender will not take part in Sunday’s home match against Real Madrid. As if Laporte’s loss was not enough, the hosts will have to be without Aduriz, De Marcos and Gurpegi. These three players must serve suspension for picking up too many yellows in the campaign.
Things should get calmer for Real Madrid who have a foot in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Buoyed by Wednesday’s 3-0 win at home to Galatasaray, Los Blancos enter Saturday afternoon’s match against Levante with virtually no pressure.
Finishing second is far as Real Madrid’s ambition goes in the Spanish La Liga. As of now, they are one point above city rivals Atletico Madrid. Should they secure their 13th win in 15 home matches, Mourinho’s men will go four points clear of the third spot for at least 24 hours.
It was not too long ago that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was representing the Barcelona colors, but on Tuesday night, he will get a chance to defeat his former side in a highly anticipated Champions League clash in Paris.
The Swedish international was supposed to miss out on this match after having received a red card against Valencia in the last knockout round, but PSG's request to cut down the length of the suspension will allow Zlatan to play on Tuesday. Having him available will be a big boost to his side, considering he has scored 31 goals in 37 appearances for the Parisians.
With Zlatan's return, Carlo Ancelotti will also welcome Ezequiel Lavezzi back into the squad, after the Argentinean sat out their last match against Montpellier.
Miami Beach, Florida (March 27, 2013) – Three Serie A matches – two of which will feature Internazionale – have been listed in beIN Sports’ program schedule from now till April 3. Celta de Vigo vs Barcelona and Real Zaragoza vs Real Madrid are also part of this weekend’s top La Liga coverage. LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) tells you when to watch what on beIN SPORT and beIN Sport en Español.
The Parc des Princes will be set ablaze when league leaders PSG will clash against French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier. This thriller, which will open Matchday 30, will follow the Championship’s Crystal Palace vs Birmingham City match this Friday. PSG vs Montpellier will be live on beIN Sport USA from 15:30 EST.
Before the international break, Jose Mourinho slammed FIFA for interrupting the current crunch period in club football with national team football. The outspoken manager will return to business in Spain after making trips to England and his native Portugal during the past few days.
He will find tired legs in his squad – Argentina’s Angel Di Maria who played in Bolivia’s high altitude on Tuesday, Portugal’s Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, Sergio Ramos and other Spanish internationals to name a few. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Diego Lopez and star winger Cristiano Ronaldo should be fit for selection.
Barcelona's surprising, yet deserved defeat at the San Siro had many football personalities questioning the Blaugrana and whether or not they were beginning to fall off the pedestal. Their 4-0 victory in the second match at the Nou Camp should have been enough to silence some of those who were starting to question them.
Up next will be a Rayo Vallecano side that has not even slightly enjoyed their previous matches with the Blaugrana. From their last four matches with Barcelona, Rayo has been outscored 19-0. Those are not numbers that will give your squad confidence, but at least scoring a goal will be an improvement.
Miami Beach, Florida (March 16, 2013) – There is much to watch on beIN Sports this weekend. LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) has all the live stream and TV schedules data you need. Watch out for the big matches of the weekend which include Real Madrid vs Mallorca, Milan vs Palermo, Bologna vs Juventus and Barcelona vs Juventus. With beIN Sports, you can watch all these games and more from the Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A live to spice up your weekend.
beIN Sports’ end of week coverage began on Friday with Olympique Marseille’s goalless draw at home to Ajaccio in the French Ligue 1 and Deportivo La Coruna’s crucial 3-1 victory over Celta de Vigo in La Liga. The network will air six more matches from Spain’s Primera Division on Saturday and Sunday.
Jose Mourinho is expected to play his strong possible squad in the absence of Angel Di Maria and Iker Casillas who are both nearing recovery. The Real Madrid coach will have to choose between Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain for the striker role. The latter is poised to start ahead of his French team mate.
Kaka has made good use of his playing minutes this year. His contribution in midfield cannot be denied. The Brazilian is likely to partner with Özil and Ronaldo as Los Blancos will be hunting for goals at home to Mallorca.