Madrid, April 29 (IANS) The destiny of the La Liga football tournament could well be up for grabs as the top three sides are all in action in what promises to be a photo finish in a tight title race.
The 36th round of matches kicks off on Friday with Sporting Gijon looking for three vital points at home to Eibar. The stage then switches to San Sebastian on Saturday as third-placed Real Madrid visit Real Sociedad, reports Xinhua.
The Basque side have a habit of causing problems to sides at the top of the table and only recently defeated leaders FC Barcelona at the Anoeta Stadium.
Real Madrid travel with one eye on the return leg of their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City and will be without star strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema through injury.
Resting players has not stopped them in the past, but this is a game where they could go top of the table to put pressure on top two teams Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
Atletico also face their match at home to relegation-threatened neighbours Rayo Vallecano with one eye on the Champions League after their battling 1-0 win at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Diego Simeone will be in the stands as he starts a 3-game ban and his options for squad rotations are not as deep as Real Madrid’ s. Although players such as Angel Correa and Luciano Vietto could well be given a chance along with Jesus Gamez and Thomas Teye in midfield.
An Atletico win would ensure they remain ahead of Real Madrid and pile the pressure on FC Barcelona.
Barcelona are last in action and face a tricky match away to Real Betis and although they have scored 14 goals in their last two wins, it would be wrong to think they have returned to peak form after an alarming slump.
Their exit from Champions League, should however, have allowed the coach to rest tired legs and that freshness could be a factor in the final fortnight of the campaign.
Saturday ends with Granada needing a win at home to Las Palmas before Athletic Club Bilbao have their third consecutive midday kick off on Sunday when they face Celta Vigo.
Sevilla will be up against Espanyol, who need 3 points to climb away from danger, while Getafe will hope their upturn in form continues under Juan Eduardo Esnaider away to Deportivo la Coruna.
Villarreal need to win in order to assure the fourth place in a derby against Valencia, while Levante’s relegation could be confirmed should they lose away to Malaga on Monday.