Villarreal not afraid of Barca

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MADRID, November 12- Nilmar has vowed that Villarreal will go out and attack Barcelona when they meet on Sunday, as they seek to confirm their place in the fight for the championship.

There were complaints last season that the Spanish top flight had become a two-horse race between eventual champions Barca and runners-up Real Madrid, but so far this season Villarreal have managed to keep in touch.

"It’s normal that Barca and Madrid are competing for the league but this year there is not such a big gap with us in third," said Brazilian striker Nilmar, who has formed a potent strike partnership with Giuseppe Rossi.

"We are going to try and maintain our current form so that they do not escape from us."

Villarreal are currently just two points behind Barcelona and three off leaders Real.

"We have a style of play that we mustn’t change," Nilmar added.

"To play at Camp Nou is very difficult and we have to give 100 percent in order to take something positive from it. We go there aiming to win and pick up three points that will keep us in a good position."

Barcelona will be without the suspended Gerard Pique in the heart of defence but they have a forward line brimming with confidence, having scored eight goals in their last two matches.

Real have made their third best ever start to a league season under new coach Jose Mourinho and travel to Sporting Gijon with eight wins and two draws so far.

"We are a young team with a lot of quality. There is a good spirit in the side and although we have had some tough games we are also learning from them," said playmaker Mesut Ozil, who moved to the Bernabeu after an impressive World Cup with Germany.

"Away from the pitch we all get on well and we know that we have to give our all for the team because every side wants to show their qualities against Real Madrid."

Espanyol are perhaps the surprise team of the season so far as they are riding high in a Champions League place ahead of Sunday’s trip to Racing Santander.

"The fans can be very proud of this young side, which has been developed by the club, and if they maintain the same desire and commitment, we can have a successful season," said Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Valencia and Sevilla are tied together on 17 points after the latter came out on top when the two went head-to-head last Monday in a controversial game that turned on the dismissal of Valencia midfielder Mehmet Topal.

Valencia now travel to Getafe, while Sevilla face a Real Zaragoza side who have moved off the bottom after their first win of the season.

Hercules host Real Sociedad in a battle of promoted teams, with the visitors in form and looking for their fourth successive win.

Former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of his first match with Malaga in a relegation battle against Levante.

It remains very tight at the bottom and Almeria, one point above Levante, face a tough trip to Athletic Bilbao.

Back-to-back wins have taken Deportivo la Coruna out of the bottom three and they meet Mallorca on Sunday, while, also in mid-table, Atletico Madrid take on Osasuna.

Fixtures

Saturday:

Athletic Bilbao v Almeria (1700GMT), Atletico Madrid v Osasuna (1900GMT), Barcelona v Villarreal (2100GMT)

Sunday (1600GMT unless otherwise stated):

Real Zaragoza v Sevilla, Hercules v Real Sociedad, Racing Santander v Espanyol, Malaga v Levante, Real Mallorca v Deportivo la Coruna, Sporting Gijon v Real Madrid (1800GMT), Valencia v Getafe (2000GMT)

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