Sociedad next up for Barca


MADRID, December 10- Barcelona's attacking quality was demonstrated as they dominated the short list for the World Player of the Year Award but despite the ominous task facing opponents Real Sociedad this weekend, midfielder Xabi Prieto believes his side can spring an upset.The leaders had Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez in the three-man list with the winner announced next month and it was yet a further indication of the strength of the Barca side, who had eight players in the Spain squad that won the World Cup.

They asserted themselves on this year’s title race with a 5-0 destruction of Real Madrid in their last home match which put them top of the table but Real Sociedad, who are riding high in sixth place, are focusing on the way Hercules travelled to the Nou Camp and came away with a victory earlier in the season.

"They not only have a great forward line but also the best defence in the league and this is going to be a very tough game particularly as Barça are fighting for the title. It won’t be a game for us to enjoy but where we will have to work hard and make them suffer," said Prieto, who has been in a rich vein of form.

"We know that they are not unbeatable and so that also gives us belief and confidence."

Real Madrid responded to their mauling by Barca with a 2-0 win over Valencia but with the team still smarting they will look to take out their frustration on bottom side Zaragoza.

"We know what we are up against but if we can beat Real Madrid then it would really turn things around for us and so it would be worth more than just three points," said Argentine Nico Bertolo.

"There is still a long way to go in the championship but we cannot afford to let many more points escape us. This will be a game where it will be Real Madrid who have everything to lose."

Villarreal are trying to remain in the title chase but with far more limited resources it is an uphill battle and they are seven points adrift of Barcelona. Next up for them are Getafe in what should be an entertaining spectacle.

"Getafe like to play good football and have excellent players so while it will be difficult for us, it will be an attractive match for the fans," said defender Carlos Marchena.

"We are always looking upwards but obviously Barca and Madrid are very strong and for us to compete we have to be at our best the whole time."

Espanyol have put their confidence in youth products like Javi Marquez and Jose Callejon and so far it has been a major success with the team sitting in a Champions League place.

They face a big test this weekend though with a trip to face Athletic Bilbao in front of their intimidating fans.

Valencia’s form has dropped off with just one win in three games but they will look to get back on track against Osasuna.

Mallorca are on the fringes of the European places and play Racing Santander while below them are Atletico Madrid and Sevilla who have both had disappointed campaigns. They face Deportivo la Coruña and Almeria, respectively.

At the other end of the table, third from bottom, Sporting Gijon have a crunch match against Levante, while Malaga one place above take on Hercules.



Getafe v Villarreal (17.00 GMT), Sevilla v Almeria (19.00), Atletico Madrid v Deportivo la Coruna (21.00)


Athletic Bilbao v Espanyol (16.00), Sporting Gijon v Levante (15.00), Hercules v Malaga (16.00), Mallorca v Racing Santander (16.00), Zaragoza v Real Madrid (18.00), Barcelona v Real Sociedad (20.00)


Valencia v Osasuna (2000)