Different moods for top teams in weekend action
La Liga leaders Real Madrid will go into their away game against Sporting Gijon in a far more positive frame of mind than Barcelona will approach their match at home against Real Sociedad in what could be another decisive week in the battle for the Spanish football league title and also to avoid relegation.
Saturday kicks off with Deportivo la Coruna desperate for a win at home against a Malaga side that has climbed away from the relegation zone, thanks to consecutive wins, reports Xinhua news agency.
Real Madrid are next in action with a trip to play Sporting Gijon, whose hopes of avoiding relegation have suffered a huge setback with two consecutive defeats that have left them five points away from safety.
Madrid travel north on the back of their 2-1 win away over Bayern Munich in the Champions League and with their morale sky high. Head coach Zinedine Zidane will possibly rest some of his key players for the return leg of their European tie, but won't have that luxury in defence where Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez are his only two fit central defenders.
Atletico are next up and aim to cement their place in third at home facing bottom of the table Osasuna, who nevertheless travel to the capital following consecutive wins, which will probably do little to help their campaign to avoid the drop. With only a slender lead over Leicester City in their Champions League tie, Atletico coach Diego Simeone will also be tempted to make changes and will hope striker Kevin Gameiro is available to play. There is a different mood in Barcelona, after their 0-3 thrashing away by Juventus and the post-match criticism head coach Luis Enrique directed at his players. Barcelona entertain fifth-placed Real Sociedad, who have their sights set on a place in Europe. And with Asier Illaramendi and David Zurutuza both fit for the visitors, Barcelona will have to improve on their midweek showing in order to avoid an upset which would definitively end their title hopes.
Leganes suffered a body blow to their chances of avoiding relegation when they lost to Osasuna last week, but they still have a five-point cushion over Sporting Gijon, which they can add to win their home game against Espanyol, who maintain an outside chance of a top-six finish.