Barcelona can hardly wait for Saturday to come. That’s when they will be able to put behind them Wednesday’s shock cup final defeat against Real Madrid – by taking another step towards their third straight Liga title.
Pep Guardiola’s talented team were out-fought and out-punched on Wednesday by Real, who overcame the odds to win their first trophy since 2008.
Barca will face Real in the semifinals of the Champions League, on April 27 and May 2. But before then, Barca would like to have all but clinched the league title.
Club captain Carles Puyol, who missed the cup final through injury, said straight afterwards: “We have to forget all about tonight’s defeat quickly, and start to think about Saturday’s game against Osasuna.”
Barca are eight points above Real in La Liga, with six games left to play. Guardiola might be tempted to rest several regulars, with Wednesday’s visit to Madrid in mind.
Osasuna, for their part, are fifth from bottom – having lost their last three games – and in big trouble.
Barca will be hoping that, before their game against Osasuna, Real slip up away to third-placed Valencia.
Valencia need the points in order to keep ahead of local rivals Villarreal, in the battle for third place – and direct entry to the Champions League. At present, Valencia are six points above Villarreal.
Valencia defender Marius Stankevicius said on Wednesday: “It will not be an easy game. But we are ambitious and we must try to beat them.”
Real will be without Angel Di Maria, suspended after being sent off at the end of Wednesday’s cup final.
Saturday’s late game will be the Basque derby between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.
Bilbao are fifth and determined to get back into the Europa League, after a season out of Europe. Sociedad, for their part, are 12th but still not clear of the relegation zone.
The big game on Sunday will be the clash between Sevilla and Villarreal. Sevilla are seventh and just as keen as Bilbao to get into the Europa League. Sunday’s other games are as follows: Mallorca-Getafe, Racing Santander-Malaga, Sporting Gijon-Espanyol, Hercules-Deportivo Coruna and Atletico Madrid-Levante.
Monday will see a tense relegation battle between Zaragoza and Almeria. Zaragoza are fourth from bottom, Almeria are adrift at the bottom and in desperate need of points.