Barcelona can clinch league

2011-04-28 07:41

Barcelona are planning to leave behind all the sound and the fury of yesterday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid – and all but clinch their third straight Spanish title.

If they win at struggling Real Sociedad on Saturday they will stay at least eight points ahead of Real Madrid in La Liga, with just four rounds of matches left then.

“Tonight was great,” said Barca midfielder Seydou Keita after the 2-0 Champions League win in Madrid from Lionel Messi’s late double. “But now we need to start thinking again about the league.”

Barca coach Pep Guardiola is likely to rest several regulars after their exertions in Madrid, with the May 3 semi-final second leg in mind.

Veteran captain Carles Puyol will probably be given a well-deserved rest after heroically slotting in at left-back in Madrid, despite not being 100% physically.

Ibrahim Afellay, who made an immediate effect after coming off the subs’ bench yesterday, is likely to start, alongside fellow youngsters Thiago and Jeffren.

Barca’s injury victims at the moment are Eric Abidal, Adriano, Maxwell, Andres Iniesta and Bojan Krkic.

Real Sociedad, who made a good start to the season, are now in 12th place and only three points aboved the relegation zone.

“It doesn’t really matter much what kind of team they (Barcelona) put out, because they are all players of high quality,” said Sociedad defender Ion Ansotegi.

Sociedad will again be without injured main striker Joseba Llorente. In the 13 matches that the San Sebastian side have played without him, they have picked up just 13 points.

Earlier on Saturday, Real Madrid will be at home to lowly Zaragoza.

The same as Guardiola, real coach Jose Mourinho is likely to rest several of the men who played yesterday, in an attempt to keep them fresh for Tuesday’s second leg.

This will open the door for the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Kaka, all of whom looked sharp in last Saturday’s 6-3 romp at Valencia.

Saturday’s other game will see Deportivo La Coruna, who are still not out of trouble, at home to Atletico Madrid.

On Sunday, third-placed Valencia will be at Osasuna and fourth-placed Villarreal receive Getafe. Sevilla visit Almeria, Levante take on Sporting Gijon, Malaga host Hercules and Mallorca travel to Santander.

Monday’s game will bring together Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao, two clubs keen to return to Europe next season.

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