MADRID, March 5 – Sevilla winger Diego Perotti is confident that they can spring a surprise as they face the ominous task of playing Real Madrid at the Bernabeu this weekend.While leaders Barcelona have started to stutter, Real have really hit form domestically, scoring eleven goals in their last two games.
They are proving to be more than just the one-man show, which critics claimed earlier in the season, and Cristiano Ronaldo has been complemented well by Gonzalo Higuain and Kaka in attack.
It is a crunch game for Sevilla who cannot afford to drop points in the chase for a Champions League place. Their form though has been inconsistent since Christmas and while they have beaten Valencia and Mallorca they have also let points slip against lesser opposition.
"All the teams in the top flight are capable of beating each other and no one is invincible. We did very well in the first half of the season and now we really need to pick up three points to try and get third spot," said Perotti.
"It will be essential to mark their key players tightly. Higuain is playing very well but there is also Cristiano and Kaka, so we have to be very careful and make the most of the chances that we have."
Barca have not been at their best and are desperately holding onto their two point advantage with many citing the showdown in April at the Bernabeu between the top two sides in Spain as the championship decider.
There was an improvement in the 2-1 win over Malaga and Andres Iniesta realises that this is the path they must continue against Almeria.
"The match against Real will be important but there are a lot of points in play before and afterwards. Following several poor matches we gave a better showing against Malaga and caused more danger," he said.
"It is normal that during a whole season you are not always at your best but as a squad it is the job of us all to play a part and if someone doesn’t play well then another can come in."
Valencia were well-beaten by Atletico Madrid 4-1 but they still have a three-point cushion above fourth place ahead of their match with Racing Santander as Sevilla only managed a draw with Athletic Bilbao.
Mallorca are enjoying a remarkable season and they will be looking to maintain their strong home form, which has seen them lose just once all season, against Sporting Gijon.
The battle for a European place is fierce and Villarreal, under new coach Juan Carlos Garrido, got back into the frame with victory over Deportivo la Coruna.
"Garrido has tried to give the team more balance and he knows a lot about defending and how to maintain possession. It was not normal for us to concede so many goals before. I hope we can get in the Europa League," said defender Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Villarreal play Espanyol with still a lot of ground to catch up on sixth-placed Deportivo who face a Tenerife side that although second from bottom, are no walk-overs. In between them in the table, Athletic Bilbao entertain Valladolid.
Xerez’s hopes of survival have appeared forlorn for some time and as they prepare for the game against Malaga they are 12 points from safety.
Zaragoza, also in touble on the edge of the relegation zone, have been boosted by the news that their in-form striker Humberto Suazo is fit for the tricky clash with Atletico Madrid.
Just one point from their last three games has left Osasuna once again looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone and they will be looking to get back on track against Getafe.
Deportivo la Coruna v Tenerife 1700
Almeria v Barcelona 1900
Real Madrid v Sevilla 2100
Malaga v Xerez 1600
Espanyol v Villarreal 1600
Mallorca v Sporting Gijon 1600
Osasuna v Getafe 1600
Athletic Bilbao v Valladolid 1800
Zaragoza v Atletico Madrid 2000
Valencia v Racing Santander 2000