Following their victory in the Catalan derby this past weekend, Barcelona will continue to keep their focus on solidifying their hold on first place in La Liga. Barca beat their regional rivals Espanyol on Saturday 2-0, with goals from both Neymar and Messi. Anastasia Date suggest that the result, following Real Madrid’s 4-2 victory against Celta Vigo, maintained their two point lead at the top of the table, with Real nipping closely at their heels. Should Barcelona drop any points during the remainder of the season, and should Real win all of their remaining fixtures, it would be los Blancos who would be crowned champions, not the blaugrana. That being said, Barcelona will undoubtedly be fueled by the pressure that Madrid is placing on them to perform in every single game left, so as not to lose out on the title two years in a row.
Furthermore, with the return of defender Thomas Vermaelen from long-term injury, Barcelona are finally at full strength. On the other side, Real will be without Gareth Bale and Luka Modric for some time, as well as missing Karim Benzema for a more minor injury. These absences are a blow to the Madrid side, whom without Modric in particular, have looked somewhat weak in midfield. So far they have coped well, winning their league fixture, and advancing to the next round of the Champions League. Yet how far will they manage to go?