Madrid, April 17: Atletico Madrid kick off the 34th round of La Liga Friday with a home game to Elche where Diego Simeone’s side will look to put the pressure on rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
Real Madrid’s Champions League tie against Bayern Munich next week means their game at home to Valladolid has been postponed until May and Atletico could move six points clear of their neighbours if they defeat a side battling to retain its place in La Liga, reports Xinhua.
Diego Costa looks to have recovered after colliding with a post last weekend but Simeone could rest players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal clash with Chelsea.
Barcelona have few options other than to pick themselves up following their Copa del Rey final defeat to Real Madrid Wednesday night. But after three defeats in a week, they could hardly have tougher rivals that fourth place Athletic Club Bilbao.
Athletic are six points clear in fourth and were the first team to defeat Barcelona this season. They will hope to take advantage of tired legs among Tata Martino’s side Sunday night.
Sevilla, who are Athletic’s main rivals for fourth, are at home to Granada Sunday and the visitors know a repeat of last weekend’s triumph over Barcelona will just about assure their survival in the top flight for another season.
Saturday sees two important matches to avoid relegation with Osasuna entertaining Valencia in mid-table and possibly resting players ahead of their Europa League semifinal next week.
Meanwhile, Getafe have to win away to Levante in order to climb out of the bottom three and will hope to find Joaquin Caparros’ side on one of their more generous afternoons.
Real Sociedad and Espanyol end Saturday in a game the home team needs to win to pressure seventh placed Villarreal.
Relegation haunted Almeria need a win at home to Celta Sunday’s mid-day kick off. Defeat for the home side would start to leave them looking condemned to the drop and Celta will look to take advantage of any nerves.
Meanwhile, Rayo Vallecano can just about seal Betis’ fate if the Madrid based club continue their recent fine form which has seen them lose just one of their last eight matches.
The round ends Monday as Villarreal visit Malaga.