Barcelona need to win in Seville to keep up with Real
Win away to Sevilla or drop out of the title race - that is the challenge facing Spanish football giants Barcelona on Saturday.7 February 2008
MADRID - Win away to Sevilla or drop out of the title race - that is the challenge facing Spanish football giants Barcelona on Saturday.
Anything less than a win down in Seville will give leaders Real Madrid the chance to extend their six-point lead at the top of La Liga again.
"We know just how important Saturday's match will be for us," said Barca defender Rafa Marquez.
The Mexican hardman admitted that Barca's away form this season had been "very poor," having won just three off their 11 league away matches.
They will make the trip southwards without injured captain Carles Puyol and without African Cup of Nations stars Yaya Toure and Samuel Eto'o.
Ronaldinho seems to have finally emerged from his midwinter indolence, though whether he will be of much use in his present shape is open to doubt.
The two-time reigning UEFA Cup champions Sevilla, for their part, will be able to count on fit-again keeper Andres Palop and on league top scorer Luis Fabiano, who has already put away 16 and is now looking for more.
Exactly a year ago Barca lost 2-1 away to Sevilla, a defeat which precipitated their long decline.
Saturday will also see fourth-placed Villarreal away to lowly Murcia, and Deportivo Coruna at home to Getafe.
Deportivo - Liga champions in 2000 - have won their last two games but are still fourth from bottom.
Real Madrid host Valladolid in the big game on Sunday.
Real have won all home league matches, but may be prejudiced by the fact that many of their stars have played in midweek international friendlies. In addition, Real are coming off a surprise 2-0 defeat at lowly Almeria last Sunday.
Valladolid did surprisingly well at home to Real in October, and deserved better than a 1-1 draw.
Earlier on Sunday, third-placed Espanyol are at home to Recreativo Huelva, who have just promoted youth team coach Manolo Zambrano to take over from the axed Victor Munoz.
Fifth-placed Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, go up to Santander without injured Sergio Aguero, to face a Racing side just one place behind them.
Sunday's other games are Valencia vs. Real Betis, Mallorca vs. Almeria, Athletic Bilbao vs. Levante and Osasuna vs. Zaragoza.
[Copyright dpa 2008]
Subject: Spanish news