FC Barcelona and Real Madrid continue their battle for La Liga as Barca host Sevilla and Real Madrid visit Mallorca on Sunday. Both sides in midweek won their matches against Betis and Valencia, which were postponed due to their participation in the Supercup in January, leaving Barca five points clear of Madrid, who are six ahead of Real Sociedad.
Real Madrid are first into action on Sunday lunchtime away to Mallorca, who have won their last three home games by 1-0. Although Javier Aguirre`s side has scored just 15 goals this season, they have only conceded 18 in 19 matches and are tough to break down. (WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo Scores First Goal for Al-Nassr in Clash Against Al-Fateh)
The match will test Real Madrid`s stamina after they played Valencia on Thursday night, leaving them little recovery time. The packed fixture calendar means Karim Benzema and Eder Militao miss the trip to the island after picking up muscle injuries on Thursday, and they join Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy on the injury list.
Benzema and Militao will have tests on their injuries on Saturday, and the hope is they will be able to travel to Morocco with the rest of the Madrid squad for the Club World Cup.
In his 200th Real Madrid game, Vinícius Jr. scores his 50th goal for the club pic.twitter.com/LUR4LfDGSS
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 2, 2023
That tournament will mean another two matches for Madrid next week (provided they reach the final), with next weekend`s scheduled league match against Elche put back to February 15th. (READ: Mason Greenwood: Rape and Assault Charges against Manchester United Forward Dropped, Read Details Here)
While Madrid continue to play matches, Barcelona`s players will enjoy a rare midweek break after their match at home to Sevilla on Sunday night, with Xavi Hernandez allowing his squad Tuesday and Wednesday off.
Sevilla travel to Camp Nou after consecutive wins lifted them out of the bottom three, although they will go into Sunday`s game just two points clear of third from bottom Cadiz and with plenty of work still to do.
Barca won 2-1 away to Betis on Wednesday, with Raphinha producing his best display in several weeks to replace the injured Ousmane Dembele.
Robert Lewandowski will again be the man to stop for Sevilla, although Pedri was hugely impressive in both attack and defense in midweek and his efforts, along with Gavi and Frenkie de Jong, are one reason why Barca`s defense has been so well protected – conceding just seven league goals all season.
Although Barca haven’t been brilliant in attack recently, their watertight defense has meant they haven’t needed to be, and the hope will be that another clean sheet will clear the way to three more points and a well-earned rest before another intense period of matches until the end of March.