Real Madrid target three-way tie at top

MADRID – Real Madrid can pile the pressure on La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by moving into a three-way tie at the top of the table with a win away to struggling Real Betis on Saturday.

Saturday
Betis    vs    Real Madrid    5pm
Elche    vs    Rayo        7pm
Granada    vs    Osasuna    9pm
Espanyol    vs    Celta Vigo    11pm

Sunday
Getafe    vs    R Sociedad    1pm
Villarreal    vs    Almeria        6pm
Levante    vs    Barcelona    8pm
Atletico    vs    Sevilla        10pm

Monday
Athletic    vs    Valladolid    11pm

MADRID – Real Madrid can pile the pressure on La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by moving into a three-way tie at the top of the table with a win away to struggling Real Betis on Saturday.

Madrid closed the gap on their title rivals to three points last weekend thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win away at Espanyol, whilst Atletico and Barca played out a 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderon.

All three sides are still competing on three fronts as they progressed into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey in midweek ahead of a return to Champions League action next month.

Despite a run of good results, Madrid’s performances have failed to convince in recent weeks with 91 million euro ($124 million, £77 million) signing Gareth Bale looking particularly off-colour.

However, coach Carlo Ancelotti has hailed his side’s competitive spirit to keep themselves in the title race.  “Now the most difficult part of the season comes because all the matches are important,” he said.

“We don’t always play fantastic football. We have a lot of games right now and to always play well isn’t easy.  “But the team is concentrated, working very hard and is hungry to achieve things in the future.”

A win for Real would mean they would move joint top for the first time since mid-September and Los Blancos will be heavy favourites against a Betis side rooted to the foot of the table and without a win in the league 12 games.

Barcelona are in action on Sunday as they travel to Levante where Lionel Messi is expected to start.

Atletico are the last of the title contenders to take the field this weekend as they host an in-form Sevilla side who have moved into contention for the fourth Champions League place with a seven-game unbeaten run.

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