Madrid, April 22 (IANS) The race for the La Liga football title continues with no time for rest in the 35th round of games this weekend.
The midweek games in the 34th round finished on Thursday, but with Atletico and Real Madrid in European Champions League action next week, there is hardly time to draw breath before continuing their title challenge.
Second placed Atletico will briefly go top of the table on Saturday if they win at home against a Malaga side which is in a comfortable mid-table position with no chance of either qualifying for Europe nor of being relegated.
Atletico head coach Diego Simeone recovered midfielder Gabi Fernandez who was suspended for Wednesday’s hard-fought win in Athletic Bilbao, but loses central defender Diego Godin with a hamstring injury, which he suffered in the same game.
Meanwhile Real’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale should be fit, but there is a doubt over Cristiano Ronaldo as the Los Blancos travel to the south of the Spanish capital to take on Rayo Vallecano on Saturday afternoon.
Ronaldo left the pitch at the end of his side’s win over Villarreal on Wednesday with a hamstring problem and despite his desire to play every minute of every game, head coach Zinedine Zidane warned after that game that the Portuguese striker needs to rest.
League leaders Barcelona could well be in third place when they kick off against Sporting Gijon, but have regained confidence following their 8-0 win away over Deportivo la Coruna during the week.
With Barcelona out of European Champions League and defender Gerard Pique back after suspension, chief coach Luis Enrique will field his strongest side against a spirited but limited Sporting, who slipped back into the bottom three on Thursday despite a heroic 2-1 win at home against Sevilla.
Luis Suarez scored four goals and set up three against Deportivo and made it clear “it has not entered our head we could lose the league title”.
The weekend’s other games see Eibar, who were rocked on Thursday by the news that president Alex Aranzabal is leaving the club at the end of the season, at home against Deportivo.
Levante have to pick themselves up from a 1-5 thrashing in the hands of Granada and defeat fifth placed Bilbao to have any chance of avoiding relegation, while the Seville derby between Sevilla and Betis promises fireworks, especially after Sevilla defender Adil Rami posted a ‘tweet’ mocking their rivals on Thursday.
Getafe ended a 12-game winless run on Thursday, but need to defeat a resurgent Valencia in order to escape the drop zone, while Villarreal will move a step closer to assuring a place in the Champions League if they can defeat Real Sociedad, before Celta and Granada end the round of games on Monday.