sport news LA LIGA WEEKEND PREVIEW: Barcelona go in search of eighth straight win in all ...

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The top of La Liga is beginning to take a familiar shape after emphatic wins for and Barcelona in an entertaining round of midweek fixtures.

Madrid thrashed struggling Leganes 5-0 to move into second place, just one point behind leaders Barcelona, who put five past Valladolid at the Nou Camp.

Both sides will be confident of victory again this weekend when they face Real Betis and Levante respectively on Saturday.

However, the most hotly-anticipated clash sees fifth place Sevilla host fourth place Atletico Madrid on Saturday evening, with the two sides level on 20 points.

Both sides know that victory will put an early dent in the other's bid to finish in the Champions League places and see them stay within two points of leaders Barcelona.

Sportsmail gives you the lowdown on the biggest games this weekend and rounds up the best of the rest in our weekly La Liga weekend preview. 

Karim Benzema will look to add to his seven-goal tally this season as Real Madrid face Betis

Karim Benzema will look to add to his seven-goal tally this season as face Betis


Barcelona are arguably the most in-form side in Europe after picking up their seventh straight win in all competitions with a 5-1 thrashing of Real Valladolid on Wednesday night. 

Lionel Messi was at his brilliant best and scored twice, including a stunning 50th free-kick of his career, while supplying two assists for Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez.

Victory saw Barca maintain their one-point lead over at the top of division and Levante have the sizeable task of trying to stop the league leaders in their tracks on Saturday afternoon. 

The hosts have endured a mixed run of form which has seen them lose three of their last six games, though they did beat Real Sociedad 2-1 on Tuesday, which will give them much needed confidence heading into Saturday's game.

That win leaves Levante in 10th place in the table on 14 points but their cause won't be helped by a lengthy injury list, which sees Tono, Oier Olazabal, Robert Pier and Cheick Douckoure still on the sideLINES.

Barcelona, meanwhile, welcome Ousmane Dembele back from a two-match suspension, while Antoine Griezmann is expected to return to the starting XI alongside Suarez and Messi. 

Messi was at his brilliant best in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Real Valladolid on Wednesday night

Messi was at his brilliant best in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Real Valladolid on Wednesday night


It's almost certainly too early in the season to label a fixture a crunch clash but Sevilla's Saturday evening meeting with Atletico Madrid could provide an interesting gauge of the quality and ambitions of both sides this term.

Atletico spent a staggering £219million on an overhaul of their squad this summer but their vast turnover of players has resulted in a mixed start to the season as Diego Simeone's new-look side slowly begin to gel.

A 1-1 draw with Alaves in midweek leaves Atletico in fourth place in the division, two points behind leaders Barcelona and level on points with Saturday's opponents Sevilla. 

A lack of goals continues to be an issue for Simeone's side - they've found the back of the net just 11 times in 11 games this term - despite boasting the glamorous strike pairing of Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

That lack of cutting edge in the final third has resulted in a frustrating number of draws - five already - which is half the number they recorded in the whole of last season.

Another draw could be on

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